Selections from the Note-Books of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Selections from the Note-Books of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Selections from the Note-Books of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Selections from the Note-Books of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Excerpt

There is a continuity in the workbooks of Gerard Manley Hopkins that might elude the casual reader. From a notation (April, 1864) among the first entries in his Early Diaries , and first in this selection, we discover Hopkins' remarking "no royal road to poetry." Paradoxically then he comments: "The world should know by this time that one cannot reach Parnassus except by flying thither." The paradox disappears, however, and the continuity emerges: the following extracts show what lessons in humility, patience, and self-effacement poetry meant to him: how pedestrian the flight must be; for only then the senses and the mind and heart can fly.

Studying his descriptions, raw material for eventual poems, we come at last to our closing statement (August, 1880), princely paradox again after our recognition of his objectivity; here Hopkins states his belief in the supremacy, the inviolability of his selfhood. "I find myself . . . more important to myself than anything I see." The rest of the world served as his clothes, "derivative" of this self. So speaking of the wind, "when I came out I seemed to put it on like a gown as a man puts on the shadow he walks into and hoods or hats himself with the shelter of a roof, a penthouse, or a copse of trees. . . ."

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