"Thou Art Indeed.." Hopkins

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The poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins is recognized by critics as some of the most influential and powerful religious poetry in all of history. At the young age of fifteen he won the Highgate School Poetry prize and two years later received the Governor's Gold Medal for Latin Verse (website). However, despite this early recognition, he published very few poems over the course of his life, with the majority of his poetry being published posthumously. This can lead one to infer that his poetry was never written for an audience of any sort, short of himself and his God. Therefore his poems can provide very meaningful insight into the journey through faith on which he embarked over the course of his life. Consequently, as one of Hopkins' final sonnets before his death, the poem ["Thou Art Indeed Just…"] can be seen as a well-framed window into his soul; the soul of a man who has struggled to follow the path of God throughout his lifetime. Through an in-depth analysis of the imagery and poetic devices at work within this poem, perhaps a deeper understanding of the poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, can be attained. Understanding the sonnet ["Thou Art Indeed Just…"] necessitates an understanding of some of the prevailing themes at work both in Hopkins' poetry and in his life. Hopkins was perpetually plagued, as well as blessed, by the double nature of his faith, "a source of anguish", which "he never wavered in…[yet]…never felt worthy of…" (Ramazani 64). This dual nature of faith makes itself evident in the poem through the attitudes taken by Hopkins. The opening lines, "Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend/with thee" (Hopkins 82) imparts to the reader a sense of acceptance of the fair nature of the Lord, despite any contentions Hopkins may have. The rhythmic, hard consonant sounds of the "t" and "d" in this passage (underlined) suggest a harmony or perhaps a grand design about which humankind is not fully aware. In Hopkins' terminology, the structure of the first two...
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