Gerard Manley HopkinsJason Platko Mrs. Pena English 28 May, 1996Everyone is destined to be great for a moment in their lives. For GerardManley Hopkins this was difficult. Gerard was a poet that came way before histime and people didn’t realize the power he had with words.Gerard Manley Hopkins was one of the most original poets to write inEnglish at any time period.
He only lived for 45 years and only had three ofhis poems published during his lifetime. Gerard was torn between his love ofGod and his love of poetry.Gerard Manley Hopkins, born on July 28 1844, was the eldest of eightchildren of a London marine insurance adjuster.
Besides writing books aboutmarine insurance Gerard’s father, Manley, also wrote a volume of poetry. Hismother on the other hand was a very pious person. She was actively involved inthe church and impressed her religion on Gerard. He attended Highgate Schoolwhere his talent for poetry was first shown.
Some sources say he won as many asseven contests while enrolled at Highgate.Gerard in 1864 enrolled at Balliol College, at Oxford, to Read Greats(classics, ancient history, and philosophy). At this time in his life he wantedto become a painter, like one of his siblings.
His plans changed when he, andthree of his friends were drawn in to Catholicism. He was received by theChurch of Newman in October of 1866. After having taken a first class degree in1867, he taught at the Oratory School, Birmingham. Two years later he decidedto become a Jesuit when he burned all his verses as too worldly. When heentered as a Jesuit he wrote no poems.
although the though of crossing the twovocations constantly crossed his mind. Then in 1875 he told his superior howmoved he felt by the wreck of the Deutschland, a ship carrying five nuns exiledfrom Germany. His superior expressed his wish that someone would write a poemabout it. Hopkins having his motive wrote his first major work.
He sent hispoem to long time friend Robert Bridges who was put off by the poem and calledit ”presumptuous juggelry.” But Hopkins stood his ground, knowing he hadsomething of worth. His poem brought together his own conversion and the chiefsnun’s transfiguring death. God’s wrath and God’s love with the face of anepigram. Hopkins faith was a source of anguish. He said he never wavered in it,but that he never felt worthy of it.Hopkins felt that language must divorce itself from such archaisms as”ere,” ”o’er,” ”wellnigh,” ”whattime,” and ”saynot.
” But Hopkinsinvented many new words like: beechhole (trunk of a beech tree), bloomfall (fallof flowers), bower of bone (body), firedint (spark), firefolk (stars), unleaving(losing leaves), and leafmeal (leaf and piecemeal).Gerard Manley Hopkins led a life that he thought was good. He lived a lifethat met both his mothers and fathers expectations. He like his father wrotepoetry, but unlike his father didn’t like to publicize his works. And like hismother he was very actively involved in the church, becoming a priest.
Butunlike his mother didn’t devote his whole life to religion. Gerardunfortunately only lived to be 45 when he died of typhoid. He was the professorof classics at University College, Dublin for many years before he passed away.When Yeats said that Hopkins’ style was merely “the last development ofpoetic diction” he spoke like a contrary old man. Hopkins’ small andidiosyncratic productions, much of it fragments, must have seemed to Yeats athreat to what had been already achieved without it. Hopkins poems blended ofnatural and learned elements, and that its vivid surface leads on occasion notonly to clarity but also to darkness.
In many of his poems it is difficult toget its true meanings. Yvor Winters blamed it on the convenient scapegoat of”Romantic” individualism. But many others blame it on Hopkins’ desire fordiscipline. We know that his urge towards sacrifice of intellect and a truereligious anonymity was very strong.
His letters to Dixon reveal an unendin