Write a note on G.M. Hopkins as a modern poet.

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hopkins didn't set out to be a modern poet. During his lifetime, his writing was seen by no more than a handful of people, most notably Robert Bridges. Yet the relatively isolated existence that Hopkins led as a Jesuit priest meant that he was able to devise his own highly unique way of writing poetry, one that was largely immune to the prevailing aesthetic standards. In that sense, one could describe Hopkins as a modern poet ahead of his time. In terms of poetic diction, meter, and rhythm, he broke free from the constraints of Victorian poetry and pointed towards a much freer, more experimental style that only really took hold after the First World War, more than a quarter of a century after Hopkins's death. As already mentioned, there are a number of modern features to Hopkins's poetry, but you might like to concentrate on the unusual words that he uses, many of which, ironically, are archaic, derived from Anglo-Saxon. By delving deep into the past, Hopkins was effecting a radical change in English poetic diction. The old words had a certain directness and vigor to them which made them especially useful to Hopkins in his depictions of nature in such works as "The Windhover," for example. The finely-wrought and elaborate Latinate style so beloved of contemporaries such as Tennyson and Browning was decisively rejected by Hopkins in favor of an earthier language, which sought to re-establish a connection between man and God's creation, lost in the midst of rapid industrialization and environmental destruction.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not going to write the whole 400 words for you, but here are some ideas to get you started.

Although Hopkins was not recognised as a major poet in his lifetime, he is now regarded as one of the key "modern" poets. His major tour de force which exemplifies what he brought to poetry is "The Wreck of the Deutschland", which narrates the death of 5 nuns in a shipwreck on the coast of England who had been exiled from Germany. In this poem, Hopkins introduced his revolutionary sprung rhythm. This rhythm, in contrast with traditional rhythm, which is based on the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables, is based on stressed syllables alone.

Along with this new meter, this poem introduces other aspects of Hopkins' art, in particular his use of diction. He uses unusual compound words, terms borrowed from dialect and coined phrases. To this he adds internal rhyme, elliptical meaning, half rhyme and compression along with assonance, alliteration and metaphor.

Apart from these stylistic innovations, this poem also introduced Hopkins' revolutionary philosophy of poetry. This poem (and his later, shorter, works) reflect Hopkins' belief that man was made to praise God and we can see nature praising God. Also, it draws heavily on Jesuit practices of meditation and spiritual self-examination.