Poem Analysis: No Worst, There Is None

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  • Topic: Fell, John Donne, Pitch
  • Pages : 4 (895 words )
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  • Published : March 8, 2012
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First, to say Hopkins is a very passionate poet (a bit reminiscent of John Donne in that, but Donne always carried the can, he was the active and responsible voice both in the early amorous work and in the equally burning religious stuff.)

Hopkins didn't experience the joy of sexuality like Donne, but he did express that blissful energy in his nature poems... and the darkness in sonnets such as this. Difficult being an English Victorian Catholic priest (hence celibate) with such intense sensibility, and no doubt the fact that his work was not published during his lifetime increased the sense of isolation.

Here goes, line by line:::

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,

No WORST, not no worse. Pitched, sounds like Satan hurled from heaven. He keeps falling this way, hurled down, it the grief always increasing; all he knows is there is no worst. That is, the grief increases eternally. Overtones of a crescendo of rising notes (pitch) and even the blackness of pitch (as tar)

More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.

And this is why he knows there is 'no worst'; because the pain he has already felt 'teaches' the present and future pain so that like a good student getting wiser and wiser, this pain will continue to get worse.

Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?

The Catholic cries out to the Holy Spirit (known as 'the comforter') and the virgin Mary, who is the intercessor; they aren't apparently helping at all.

My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, world-sorrow;

'Heave' suggests a kind of retching irresistible continuing of cries.

'herds-long'. introduces sheep imagery..... Jesus is the shepherd. (Sheep herd); Hopkins seems to be at a far extreme , great cries covering a distance.. and we know they are not answered; this increases the picture of isolation and plunging deeper into this terrible place. 'Main' both indicates the magnitude...
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