Gerard Manley Hopkins Poetry
Here is the poetry we have posted on Excellence in Literature thus far. These are especially lovely for memorization and copywork.
And here is one extra: Spring—
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
Hopkins’ poetry is best experienced when read aloud, so you may find it helpful to listen to Richard Austin’s recitations of Hopkins’ poetry.
At Gerard Manley Hopkins: An Analytical Biography, you will find a helpful essay on Hopkins’s life and work. This was published in 1912, and is one author’s perspective on the life and poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. In the years since the essay was written, Hopkins’ reputation has continued to grow, and much more has been written about him.
Although your reading of Hopkins’ work and understanding of his life will differ, based on your own educational background, faith, literary taste, and personal worldview, you will find this essay to be a helpful model for poetry analysis. Be sure to note how the author integrates lengthy quotes into her analysis. Although the MLA punctuation used today is somewhat different, the author’s textual lead-ins are a good model.
The free study guide from SparkNotes may help you better understand Hopkins’ poetry. Remember—study guides are an aid; not an authority. The author’s understanding of the text is affected by his or her worldview/philosophy, education, and literary preferences. You may find that your understanding of a particular poem differs from that of the study guide author, and this is perfectly fine as long as you support your reading with evidence from the text.