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17

Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Major Works

Author(s)
Published
26/02/2009

Publisher writes

This authoritative edition was originally published in the acclaimed Oxford Authors series under the general editorship of Frank Kermode. It brings together all Hopkins's poetry and a generous selection of his prose writings to give the essence of his work and thinking.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89) was one of the most innovative of nineteenth-century poets. During his tragically short life he strove to reconcile his religious and artistic vocations, and this edition demonstrates the range of his interests. It includes all his poetry, from best-known works such as 'The Wreck of the Deutschland' and "The Windhover' to translations, foreign language poems, plays, and verse fragments, and the recently discovered poem 'Consule Jones'. In addition there are excerpts from Hopkins's journals, letters, and spiritual writings. The poems are printed in chronological order to show Hopkins's changing preoccupations, and all the texts have been established from original manuscripts.

Judges' and contributors' comments

Mark Oakley: I had a verse from Hopkins’ “Wreck of the Deutschland” printed on my ordination card 21 years ago: “I greet him when I meet him and bless when I understand”. His prosody, imagery and theological innovation that think and shift around in metaphors and rhythm makes for a breathless dive into the deep.

Sylvia Brett: Reflective of every emotion of human experience.

David Martin: My English master, W.H. Gardner, editor of Hopkins (1948), told us fifth form sceptics in 1945 that there were three great odes in English: Milton’s on Christ’s nativity, Wordsworth’s on immortality, and Hopkins’ “The Wreck of the Deutschland”. For someone bought up in a revivalist home this outcrop of Christianity in the mists of Romanticism was news indeed, something very different from the Christianity of Ruskin and Browning, and precursor of the strenuous and contested return of faith and liturgy in modernism. Like Pascal, my other recourse for articulate faith, Hopkins found ‘nature’ an inadequate witness to divinity, yet marvellously eloquent if read from the perspective of revelation: harvest stooks ‘barbarous in beauty’, the princely falcon riding the wind even when ‘rebuffed’ by it, the ‘bright boroughs’ of the starlit night, the ‘rehearsal ... of abrupt self’ in Henry Purcell. Even so, spiritual peace only comes ‘piecemeal’, because man was ‘born for blight’ and the mind encounters ‘cliffs of fall / Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed’. ‘Nature’s bonfire’ and the ‘world’s wildfire, leave but ash’. Except that man ‘This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond / Is immortal diamond’.

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