Gerard Manley Hopkins as 20th Century Poet.


Today we have the extraordinary good fortune for an excuse to be immersed in the creative, imaginative world of Gerard Manley Hopkins. His presence at the beginning of the 20th Century (his work was first published in 1918) gives us a context against which to experience some of the tragic directions in which the 20th Century unwound itself. Hopkins can be an anchor against the tide of disconnection that is well summarized in the first stanza of William B Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming” written in January 1919:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. (Norton Vol F  p. 2099)
This is the world that Hopkins was himself working against in his deeply personal moments of attention to the things around him. For him the falcon was not a symbol of dislocation and disruption, but rather a fulcrum for the divine energies of the cosmos, harnessing the divine Beauty which he was in quest of, as an artist and as a human being:
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
    dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
    As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
   No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.(Norton Vol E  p. 1550)
Find today’s lecture here:
Slides Accompanying the Lecture:
Tutorial Audios:  Both tutorials begin with “Spring and Fall” but Tut 1 moves directly into “The Windhover” while Tut 2 moves directly into “Spring”. So enjoy listening to both!
Find link to the youtube films on Hopkins here:
If you are keen to get ahead on your blogging tasks here are a few possibilities for you to work with:
CREATIVE: Think of a moment in your experience that could be amplified in the way that Hopkins does. Try either to write a short prose piece that captures all the intricate details of the experience, or try to compose your impressions in the form of a poem. Use whatever devices you have gleaned from Hopkins to bring your writing to life.
CRITICAL: Write a short review on any one of the youtube films listed above. Can you say briefly how the film has deepened your understanding of Hopkins the poet?
REMEMBER: You are always permitted to create your own topic if you think it has significant links to what we are doing in a given week. Enjoy!

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