Manley Hopkins was a great poet of religion, nature and melancholy from the
Victorian Age, but his style of writing was not accepted for publications
during his lifetime and his best works was not recognized until after World War
Hopkins’s experience with
the religious part came from the fact that he was an English Jesuit priest. So,
it was the greatest source of his passion for the manner in which God created
the whole word. “…it becomes clear that by the Victorian Age the concept of
poetry has been linked to religious utterance for at least two hundred and
fifty years” “….the poet and the prophet
have access to the divine.”( Scheinberg 159 )
poem “Pied Beauty” is about the glory of God for the creation of the world.
From the first line of the poem it can be observed the gratitude which the
author has for divinity. “Glory to be God
for… ” (line 1); “Praise him.” (Line
title of the poem “Pied Beauty” emphasizes the imperfection that exists in the
world. The adjective in the composition of the paratextual element “pied” sums
up the whole meaning of the poem; the world is formed not only from perfect and
uniform things, but also from objects of an undetermined or imperfect form. For
this reason Hopkins choose to name his poem using a synonym of “diversity” with
the aim to highlight the imperfection of the universe; this imperfection leads
to its beauty and greatness. The God should be glorified for this thing (
“diversity”) and Hopkins’s
faith is illustrated in the eleven stanzas.
a source of inspiration, Hopkins uses the first book of the Bible, namely “Genesis”,
rememorizing the event of creating the world. The seven days in which God
created the world signify: on the first day God made the heaven and earth,
which was from the beginning empty, on the second day God made the waters, on
the third day He made the vegetation, grass, tress, on the four day He created
the light, on the five day God made the birds and the animals, on the six day
God created the man and the woman after his image, and on the seven day God rested.
All this important days, Hopkins designs them in a few specific symbols in this
poem such as: the earth, the water and
earth is illustrated in the poetry like being a wonderful view which gives to
the mankind reasons to exist: “Landscape
plotted and pieced-fold, fallow, and plought;/And all trades, their gear and
tackle and trim.” ( lines 5-6 ). The water represents the matrix of life
and death: “Fresh-firecoal
chestnut-falls…” (line 4 ) and the birds which are the symbol of the
creation of the living things and the symbol of the liberty : ” …finches„ wings;”.
poem does not have a fixed or well-indentified audience. This is organized like
a tribute; the receiver is unknown because the main purpose is to divinize the
God and not to delight the audience.
religious poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins was a very different kind of art. He expresses
his feelings about God, about the creation of the world in a very original manner.
“Hopkins’s early verse
shows a mastery of Keatsian sweetness, but he soon developed a very different
sort of style of his own, so full of experiments in rhythm and diction that,
were his poems collected into one volume, they would appear as unique effort in
English literature”. (Bridges 41 ). The
poem “Pied Beauty” is a form of art in which the author lets his experience on
religion to speak for him, because it is a creation based on the poet’s really feelings about God and
poet wants to show to the people that even the worst human beings or bad things
are brought to light by the power of God and by his will. They are let in a bad
manner and these cannot be understood by mankind because it surpasses the
possibility of human perception; their identity and sense have an available
meaning accessible just to the Creator. Only the divinity can understand
certain things; the human mind is limited. “Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)/With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím;/He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change:/Práise hím.”.
conclusion, the religious experience of Hopkins is illustrated in his poem
under the form of an homage; his beliefs and the images put in his poetry
defined not just his existence, but also his way to see the world. The
Victorian poet chose to give his soul to God, in order to present His big role
in whole universe ( in every corner of nature is incorporated pure godhead). In
other words, Hopkins returns to the Primordial Source of everything.
Bottrall, Margaret, Poems. London and Basingstoke: The Maccmillan Press LTD, 1975
Bristow, Joseph, The Cambridge companion to Victorian Poetry. New York,2000