In the following essay excerpt, Heller gives an interpretation of Hopkins’s ‘‘Pied Beauty,’’ in which attention is given to the prayer form of the poem and how the ‘‘pied’’ poetic elements reflect the topic.
Through the use of various poetic devices in ‘‘Pied Beauty,’’ Gerard Manley Hopkins causes the words of his poem to take on meaning beyond their dictionary definitions. By alluding to common prayers and manipulating both sound effect and stanza form. Hopkins makes his poem itself an example of pied beauty: it is pied, ordered and beautiful, and is an imitation of the creative act of God written to praise him in the form of a poem-prayer.
With the opening line, ‘‘Glory be to God [ . . . ]’’ (1), Hopkins alludes to the ‘‘Glory Be’’— ‘‘Glory be to the Father, and to the son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.’’ By beginning ‘‘Pied Beauty’’ with those words, Hopkins forces the reader to recall the entire prayer and asks the reader to consider his poem a prayer. The ‘‘Glory Be’’ itself is unclear just what, exactly, about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is deserving of glory, but Hopkins provides an answer: the pied beauty of so many of God’s creations is what causes God to be deserving of glory. In ‘‘Pied Beauty,’’ God deserves glory for having...
(The entire section is 835 words.)
Claire Robinson has an M.A. in English. She is a writer and editor and a former teacher of English literature and creative writing. In the following essay, she examines how Hopkins uses the poetic techniques of the oral traditions of Anglo-Saxon and traditional Welsh poetry to express his meaning in “Pied Beauty.”
Gerard Manley Hopkins’s experimentation with the poetic techniques of Anglo-Saxon and Welsh poetry was entirely geared to his intention that his poems be read aloud with the ear, not on the page with the eye. In a letter of August 21, 1877 to Robert Bridges (cited in Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works), he writes, “My verse is less to be read than heard . . . it is oratorical, that is the rhythm is so.” In another letter to Bridges in 1886 (cited by Paul L. Mariani in A Commentary on the Complete Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins), enclosing his sonnet, “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves,” he writes:
Regular rhythm tends to soothe and lull readers with its incantatory effect, whereas irregular rhythm such as Hopkins uses wakes them up and shocks them into something approaching a state of astonishment, awe, or wonder.
Of this long sonnet above all remember what applies to all my verse, that it is, as living art should be, made for performance and that its performance is not reading with the eye but loud,...
(The entire section is 1530 words.)
In the following essay, Ferns gives a critical analysis of Hopkins’s work.
While Gerard Manley Hopkins’s importance as a Victorian poet is well established, his significance as a Victorian prose writer is not as fully recognized. This is, perhaps, because his prose did not appear in single works, like John Ruskin’s Modern Painters, Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, or Walter Pater’s Studies in the History of the Renaissance, published in his lifetime but is found in such varied forms as essays, notes, sermons, and letters which were not collected and published until well after his death. Nevertheless, Hopkins is demonstrably one of the great writers of Victorian prose just as he is one of the era’s great poets. He deserves consideration alongside such acknowledged masters of Victorian prose as Arnold, Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, and John Stuart Mill. As a literary critic, for example, Hopkins is surely the most important and perceptive critic of English poetry between Arnold and T. S. Eliot and an important link in the critical tradition they represent. His achievement in prose is intimately related to his achievement in poetry. In fact, the two achievements are really one; in his prose as well as in his poetry there is the same ‘‘strain of address’’ (as Hopkins called it), the same enthusiasm, feeling, love, inspiration, and sincerity—a unity of purpose confirmed in...
(The entire section is 5227 words.)