hopkins head

“God’s Grandeur”: A Close Reading

This Robert Bridges's 'Preface to Notes' in Hopkins's Poems, 1918, article is based on a Lecture given at the 34th Hopkins Festival July 2017

William Adamson
Head of English in the Centre for Languages and Philology,
University of Ulm
This Lecture was delivered by Professor Adamson at the Hopkins Festival 2016

Introduction and background to God's Grandeur

In late August 1874, Gerard Hopkins arrived at St Bueno’s, the seminary where he was to study “dogmatic theology, moral ditto, canon law, church history, scripture, Hebrew and what not”1in preparation for his ordination, which took place three years later on Sunday 23 rd September 1877.

Prior to joining the Jesuit Order, Hopkins had burnt all the verse he had till then written, and had resolved “to write no more, […], unless it were by the wish if my superiors”2 . His resolve changed after reading newspaper reports of the tragedy of the foundered German ship, “Deutschland”, in the mouth of the Thames in December 1875. He immediately composed what was to be his longest and possibly most ambitious poem “Wreck of the Deutschland”, which was rejected for publication in 1876. 3 Nonetheless, once struck, the creative spark refused to be extinguished and Hopkins needed little further inducement to continue writing poetry. Indeed, St Bueno’s was the place where he was to write some of his most memorable and best verse and around a third of his written work stems from this period, with the majority written in the last year.

At the beginning of 1877 Hopkins was in the midst of revising moral theology for his final exams and feeling “very very tired, yes ‘a thousand times and yet a thousand times’ and ‘scarce can go or creep’.” 4 However, despite his exhaustion, the period was marked by a sudden surge of creative activity. “God’s Grandeur” is dated the 23rd February, although it was revised in March and then again later in the year, and was one of two sonnets 5, as Norman White tells us, that he sent to his mother for her birthday on the 3 rd March. Hopkins also mentions the poems in a letter to Robert Bridges in April: “It happened that the other day, […], I composed two sonnets with rhythmical experiments of the sort, which I think I will presently enclose.6

More than any other of his later poetry, the sonnets written in North Wales that spring are more than any other of his later poems concerned with his praise of God as the creator. They were also the first sonnets he had written in nearly twelve years 6

II. Title and the narrative of the poem

Paul Mariani tells us that Hopkins first titled the poem simply as “Sonnet”, 8 but it appeared with the title “God’s Grandeur” on its first printing in 1917 in The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 8

There are, generally speaking, three participants in all poetry: the poet, i.e. the author of the work, the voice, i.e. the speaker or narrator who is distinct from the historical author of the poem, and the addressee, the reader or listener. Within this framework there are of course numerous further options (is there a distinct persona, is the speaker detached or not from what is said) which need not interest us here. “God’s Grandeur”, I suggest, presents us with a narrative, a story if you like, involving all its five important elements: character, setting, plot, conflict, theme. It begins in medias res with the expository statement, followed by the proscribed steps of rising action in the octet, the climax or turning point at the beginning of the sestet, the falling action and finally the resolution. Thus the poem follows a chain of cause and effect as it works toward the solution of the conflict.

What, then, is the narrative of “God’s Grandeur”? The poem has been interpreted in a number of ways. Some see it purely in a contemporary context: an implicit criticism of 19 th century society’s industrial sabotage of the natural world, juxtaposed to the supernatural power and energy of God, or put more simply: divine perfection set against human imperfection, the loss of spirituality and destruction of the natural world: a narrative of the conservation and renewal of nature through the creator ultimately being in control of his creation and able to renew nature through the Holy Ghost. 10Another narrative approach is that of natural theology: showing how the creator is reflected or seen through his creation, remembering that in the second half of the 19 th century the question of whether the existence of God could be proved through the evidence of the natural world was a subject of intense debate. Alison Sulloway has interpreted the sonnet as a portrayal of "heretical Protestant England, still nationally unconverted to Catholicism." 11 It could also be seen as a narrative of the evils of modern life within the biblical context of the Fall 12 as set forth by the “Profession of Faith” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church where, in the octet, following his fall, man is shown as “radically and irrevocably [rejecting] God and his reign”, whilst in the sestet we are shown that, “after his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and his restoration from his fall.13

There is one other – more unusual – narrative interpretation of the poem which sees man’s intervention in nature as an essential for the release of the latent energy of natural objects – a catalyst upon which nature depends in order to realise its hidden wealth: “Hopkins is concerned to show how Christ’s glory lies in the materiality of earthly things to be discovered by man. It is man’s action which liberates the essential beauty lying hidden within the grossness of corporeality.” 14

III. Structure

“God’s Grandeur” is a Petrarchan sonnet with a conventional abba abba cdcdcd rhyme scheme and is written essentially in iambic pentameter except for line three where Hopkins adds an extra foot. Having said this, the poem does not entirely create the impression of a traditional Petrarchan sonnet. Hopkins uses counterpoint, in other words two rhythms are used at the same time, the one based upon metre, and the other on the grammatical structure or the natural speech rhythm of a sentence. For example, in the second line of the poem there seems to be no real iambic rhythm at all, but rather stress falls irregularly, but naturally, on “flame out” and “shook foil”, all four words being given equal stress within the line giving us the pattern iamb/spondee/iamb/iamb/spondee: line giving us the pattern iamb/spondee/iamb/iamb/spondee:

 ˘    ˊ  |   ˘       ˘   |   ˘     ˊ  |  ˘       ˊ   |    ˘       ˘  
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

In this variation in the rhythm occurs, it is because Hopkins has an emphatic point to make, consciously disrupting the characteristic evenness of the iambic lines. In line five, we again have a departure from the normal unit of stress pattern: “Generations have trod, have trod, have trod”, the first two feet are trochaic with a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed.

The fourteen lines are divided into an octet and a sestet. The octet is divided into two quatrains, the first of which unambiguously states the presence of God as a source of creative energy (His grandeur) infusing the world, whilst the second quatrain presents the problem: the apparent soullessness of man and the destruction he inflicts upon nature. The sestet then presents the solution to the problem, balancing the account by affirming that nature can never be defeated (“And for all this nature is never spent”) because of the very real and immediate presence of God.

IV. Language, style and literary technique

In the poem, Hopkins uses language and imagery that are both unusual and exhilarating; many of the characteristics his style are in evidence, showing just how far his poetics differed from that of other 19th century poets. The first two lines alone are a powerhouse of verbal dynamism with a preponderance of action verbs such as “charged”, “flame out” and “shook”, which are forceful, almost aggressive in their energy and strength.

Hopkins’s poetry is permeated with metaphors, and the initial metaphor in this sonnet is that of God’s grandeur as an electric force. Two similes follow, but the power lies in the metaphor, which is immediate and not diminished by the use of comparison.

Alliteration is abundant and shows Hopkins’s deliberate approach to patterning. Every line contains two and sometimes three alliterative words, for example in the wonderfully onomatopoeic line: “It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil”, culminating in the concentration of the “b” and the “br” plosives in the last three lines of the sestet.

Another important technique employed for creating tone and mood is that of assonance, the repetition of identical or similar stressed vowel sounds. Look, for example, at lines four to seven where we have four separate instances of vowel rhyme:

[…] Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell

Here Hopkins is not only generating mood, but also increasing the powerful rhythmic patterns to the lines. There is parallel structure here, too, in “seared with trade” balancing “bleared, smeared with toil”, and “and wears man's smudge” balancing “and shares man's smell” and use of assonance, or internal vowel rhyme, in "seared," "bleared" and "smeared," in line six and of “wears”, “shares” and “bares". Note the use of polysyndeton, the repetition of the conjunction “and”, as a strong rhetorical technique building up emphasis.

The technical virtuosity of the poem is also evident in the use of caesura, both initial and terminal, and enjambment, perhaps the most powerful example occurs in lines three and four in ‘oil / Crushed" (ll.3—4), but we also have ‘soil / Is bare" went / Oh(ll.11—12); ‘bent / World'(ll.13—14). The function of the arrangement of words is to shift our focus and call our attention to the essential message of the poem.

Syntax in poetry is wholly different from that as understood by grammarians, and even within poetic parameters, Hopkins’s use of syntax is unique. The way he organises his language into meaningful structures, or how he creates patterns of relationship in his organisation of words is one of the most distinctive features of his poetry. This is particularly evident in “God’s Grandeur” where Hopkins uses the order of words and his sentence construction to reinforce his central message. If we look at the first line of the second quatrain of the octave, for example, we see how Hopkins utilises the syntactical technique of repetition to emphasis the way in which men mindlessly repeat the same activities that constantly distance them from the power and grandeur of nature.

As well as his distinctive formation of sentences, Hopkins also often leaves out prepositions and conjunctions in his poetry. We see an example of this in the line “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things” where we would have the option of inserting either an “in” or “of”, both of which would give us a different interpretation of the line. The absence of the preposition allows the poet to suggest both options to us.

Before we move on to the textual analysis, there is one important point on Hopkins’s use of language that has to be made – that of his use of words. It might perhaps be better to say the way in which Hopkins controls language to underscore and strengthen his own purposes, in particular his use of abstract nouns with concrete comparisons, here, for example, “greatness” vs. “ooze of oil”. Strongly linked with this is Hopkins’s predominant use of Anglo-Saxon stem words, rather than Latin-based words. If we restrict ourselves to the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs in the sonnet, we can see that of the 63 such words that appear in the poem, only seven are of Latin or French origin (11%), and the sestet contains no Romance words at all. Hopkins is employing a predominantly Anglo-Saxon vocabulary to create an immediacy and at times almost visual transparency which comes through their very different sound and feel.


often monosyllabic polysyllabic
feeling words thinking words
imagistic/mimetic conceptional
slow moving fast moving
more sonorous in tone flatter

Just one example will have to do. The last two lines of the poem: “Because the Holy Ghost over the bent / World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” The unhurried euphony of the long vowels together with the liquid rhotic “r” and the metaphor of the Holy Spirit as a brooding bird create a daring image that makes concrete what would otherwise be a very abstract idea.

V. A Close Reading

A detailed consideration of the poem will follow its structure with the two quatrains of the octet and the sestet being examined separately.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. (1)
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; (2)
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil (3)
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? (4)

The first line of the quatrain is a single sentence consisting of an unqualified statement, what Mariani calls “the moral imperative” 15 of the poem.

There then follow two further assertions beginning lines two and three, each followed by a simile extending their meaning. The quatrain then closes in line four with a rhetorical question. The use of the present tense, particularly in line one, creates a sense of both immediacy and immutability, whilst the use of the future indicative “will” in line two indicates inevitability or certainty. 16

The first two lines alone are a powerhouse of verbal dynamism with the use of the action verbs “charged” and “flame out”, forceful, almost aggressive in their energy and strength. With “charged”, Hopkins is establishing a direct connection between the power of God in the natural world and the scientific, industrial world of the 19 th century,17 whilst the phrasal verb “flame out” suggests a momentary flaring up followed by a falling off, making God’s grandeur both dynamic and fluid with a lightening-like quality, as emphasised in the simile “like shook foil”.

Hopkins is a master of meaning, and we are well advised to look at the words he uses in some detail to establish other levels of connotation or interpretation. The word “foil” would seem to be one such word having six separate meanings as a noun, two of which might be applicable here. It could imply either metal that has been formed into a thin, flexible sheet or a flexible fencing sword, which might accord with the sense of battle or struggle that pervades much of the poem. Despite the levels of meaning that can be attached to Hopkins’ use of vocabulary, in this instance Hopkins wrote in a letter exactly what he meant: “;I mean foil in the sense of leaf or tinsel”. 18

No aspect of any poet’s work can be more crucial than the meaning of his or her words. However, with no knowledge of the letter a reader of the poem would certainly be justified in taking the word “foil” to mean “fencing foil” and would simply be reading one of the many variations in meaning we so often find in Hopkins. Having the knowledge of Hopkins’ letter, though, changes things and to ignore it would be to repress part of his experience of the poem.

In the next two lines of the quatrain, the “It” in line three is referring to grandeur, now swelling and surging in power, conveying a sense of a cumulative momentum of gathering force. The simile “like the ooze of oil / Crushed” expresses the image of richness and energy, with “Crushed” in the enjambment of lines four and five given full weight. The slight pause that often remains despite the run-on-line, the reader’s eye travelling from the end of one line to the beginning of the next, lends emphasis to the initial word creating here a counterpoint rhythm once more with the stress very firmly on “Crushed”, a word connotative of humiliation or defeat.

The tone has now changed and the question is asked “Why do men then now not reck his rod?” Despite the clear evidence of God’s presence in the world, why is it that humanity fails to pay attention (“reck”) to his divine authority (“his rod”). “Reck” is an archaic term and the lexicographer, Charles Richardson, in his Dictionary of the English Language first published in 1860, and which it is likely that Hopkins would have had as a work of reference, 19 defines it as “To make account of something or reckoning of; to count, to estimate, to value, to care for, to heed or mind”. The meanings in bold are, I suggest, those that Hopkins intended. “Reck” may no longer be in common usage, but we do find it still in the word “reckless”, which Richardson tells us means “care-less, heed-less, mind-less; thinking nought of the consequences.” “Rod”, interestingly, apart from its definition as an emblem of authority, is also described in more natural terms as “A shoot rising or springing (from a tree).

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; 5)
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil
;( 6)
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil (7)
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod
. (8)

The fifth line begins with the four-syllabled, counterpointed word “Generations”, and what Hopkins is effectively doing is verbally stretching the concept of the expanse of time immediately heightened by the heavy emphasis of the repetition of the monosyllabic “trod”. In Fritz Lang’s 1927 German expressionist film drama Metropolis, we have a scene 21 that I always think is a perfect illustration of the sense mechanical tedium and desperation implied by Hopkins. The utilitarian destructiveness of man has both despoiled nature and at the same time deprived him of his direct, physical contact with it (the soil), symbolised by the line “…nor can foot feel, being shod”.

Lines six and seven contain parallel structure in “seared with trade"; balancing ‘bleared, smeared with toil" and “and wears man's smudge"; balancing ‘and shares man';s smell'. Note the use of polysyndeton, the repetition of the conjunction “and”, as a strong rhetorical technique building up emphasis. The etymological connection between the consonantally rhyming “trade” and “trod” in lines five and six would have been known to Hopkins. Charles Richardson defines “trade” as “a way or course trodden, and retrodden, passed and repassed”, underlining the blind repetitiveness of human labour. The three heavy beats of line five are followed by a similar rhythm in the assonantal “seared […]; “bleared, […], smeared” of line six. Again, the meaning of the words is important: “sear” is defined by Richardson as “to parch, burn or wither”; “blear” is “to dim, impede or obstruct sight”; “smear” is “to cover or rub over with any greasy, slimy, dirty matter”. All three are suggestive of the arid, sightless, oleaginous nature of mankind.

The nominal use of “all” (line 6) emphasises the comprehensive nature of the narrative. Again Richardson’s definition is helpful. He states that the word is “used to denote – entirety; totality, the whole in number or magnitude.” 22 In line seven, the “all” of the preceding line is still the subject of the two verbs. The line is in fact neatly balanced with the repetition of “man’s” coming between the assonantal verbs “wears” and “shares”” and the alliterative nouns “smudge” and “smell” which have imposed themselves upon the world, debasing and destroying the now bare soil.

The word “toil” is worth a closer look. The main definition would be “ha rd work” and on the surface it would seem to be Anglo-Saxon, i.e. monosyllabic and with the long vowel sound. In fact it is from the Old French “toeiller”, meaning to drag about or make dirty, and is generally supposed to be derived from the Latin verb “tudiculare”, meaning to crush with a small hammer, and its attendant noun “tudicula”, which is a mill for crushing olives, thus intensifying the image of “oil crushed”.

The narrative voice in the second quatrain is overwhelmingly pessimistic: man, no longer able to feel, has gone astray. One critic has put it thus: "For Hopkins the ‘foot feel’ is but a part of the whole process of insensitivity: as man’s feet are encased in boots, so his whole soul is bound up, unfree.” 23 Mankind, numbed, is now incapable of recognising God’s grandeur in nature, pursuing rather his own ends.

And for all this, nature is never spent; (9)
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; (10)
And though the last lights off the black West went (11)
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs— (12)
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent (13)
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. (14)

The sestet introduces the turn of the sonnet, or volta, signalling a shift in its tone. The key proposition is stated in the ninth line “And for all this, nature is never spent”, a statement as absolute as that of the first line of the poem. The expression “for all” is being used here in the sense of “despite”, and the message is that regardless of the abuse it suffers at the hands of man described so vividly in the second quatrain, nature cannot be exhausted. “Freshness” in the following line is the very antonym of debasement and pollution, and can be seen as the instress, the force of being, that holds inscape, here the “deep down things”, together.24

In lines 11 and 12 Hopkins is effectively juxtaposing night and day as symbolic images of the destruction 25 and reawakening of hope and life. Following the bleakness of “the last lights off the black West went”, where black is then the total absence of light, the ensuing, “Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs” signals approaching transformation. Again, the instrument of the metaphor is nature, its rejuvenation symbolising Christ’s coming into the world. This image of morning springing from darkness, of death and rebirth, as well as exile and return, is also a central metaphor in religion, and one reading of the last three lines of the sestet is that of Christ’s resurrection. His rising again having died to take away the sins of the (industrial) world, symbolised in the regenerative capacity of the natural world with "the last lights off the black"signifying approaching winter (both of nature and the soul) and the "brown brink"suggesting the potential fertility of the soil, the coming spring.

The word “brink” itself signifies a crucial or critical point, especially of a situation or state beyond which success or catastrophe occurs. In other words, Hopkins is saying that the coming dawn is a defining moment. And brink here is also brown; apart from the obvious alliteration, why did Hopkins chose this colour? Of course he often uses colour as a means of establishing the inscape of natural phenomena, giving them their unique identity. Brown here, I suggest, could be seen in this sense, as descriptive of the inscape of the natural world: a positive qualifier, the colour of the earth and redolent of warmth, fertility the repository of new life. Indeed, in some definitions it is seen as standing for maternal security, which would be borne out by the last line of the poem.26

That Hopkins had an intense knowledge of Shakespeare is evident from his letters, and it would be interesting to know whether he had been thinking of Hamlet27around the period he wrote this sonnet as there, too, we find not only the brown dawn in those superb lines.

But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, / Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
[Horatio. Act 1 Scene 1, ll. 176—177]

But also:

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long.
[Marcellus. Act 1 Scene 1, ll. 158—160]

Which give us the seasonal change and the (re)birth of the Redeemer, and also bring us to the bird imagery which dominates the last two lines of the sestet.

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent / World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Bird imagery occurs throughout Hopkins’ poetry and is frequently, as it is here, a metaphor for God or Christ – think of “The Windhover” or “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”. Here, however, we do not have the bird in flight, but rather a brooding maternal figure watching protectively over the word with “ah! bright wings.”

A quick word on the interjections “oh” and “ah” which we find scattered through Hopkins’ poetry, appearing 29times in his sonnets alone. They are exhalations, audible puffs of breath before the next sound or idea begins and are, as one critic has stated, “one of the defining gestures of his poetry” 28and are expressive of wonder and amazement. Another critic, R.K.R Thornton, writes:

“Hopkins often marks by an exclamation the very moment in the poem when he reaches this height of wonder or the point of penetrating to the significance of what he sees. […] marking his moment of vision.” 29

VI. Conclusion

Overall the power of this sonnet lies in the unique use of language and the dramatic imagery – the contrasting of night and day, the extinction of light revoked by its immediate regeneration; the imagery of male physicality and destructiveness of the octet juxtaposed by the female imagery of nurture and care of the sestet. The message inherent on the poem is that despite the indifference of man to the majesty of the world, this very majesty is and will ultimately remain sacrosanct. But beyond this, Hopkins has created a sonnet of near perfection in the precision of its imagery and the vibrancy of its language. A sonnet in which “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.”


1. Humphrey House & Graham Storey (eds.), The Journals and Papers of Hopkins London: OUP, 1966) p. 260.

2. Catherine Phillips (ed.), Gerard Manley Hopkins Selected Letters (Oxford: OUP, 1991) To Richard Dixon, Oct. 5, 1878.

3. After the Jesuits publication The Month rejected the poem, Hopkins made no further attempt to have it published.

4. Catherine Phillips (ed.)Gerard Manley Hopkins Selected Letters (Oxford: OUP, 1991). To RB April 3, 1977. Hopkins is quoting Joseph Hayden from one of Haydn's canzonets (from his first set written and published in England) entitled “My mother bids me bind my hair”.

5. “’The Starlight Night’ and the one he eventually called ‘God’s Grandeur’; both of these he copied out and sent as a birthday present.”

White, Norman, Hopkins: A Literary Biography (Oxford: OUP, 1992) p. 267.

6 Catherine Phillips (ed.) op. cit. (Oxford: OUP 1991). To R.B., April 3, 1877.

7 Cf. Paddy Kitchen, Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life (Manchester: Carcanet, 1989) p.173.

8. Paul Mariani, Gerard Hopkins: A Life (New York: Viking, 2008) p. 166.

9. D. H. S. Nicholson and A. H. E. Lee (eds.), The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse (1917)

10. Hopkins uses the older form ‘Holy Ghost'which has taken on supernatural overtones. The German word Geist also still maintains both meanings.

11. Alison G. Sulloway, Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Victorian Temper (New York: Columbia University Press: 1989).

12.Terry Eagleton sees the sonnet is expressive of Hopkins’ concern with Catholicism's ambiguous attitude toward the consequences of the Fall on nature. Cf. Terry Eagleton, “Nature and Fall in Hopkins a reading of ‘God’s Grandeur’” Essays in Criticism 23(1) January 1973 pp. 68—75. 13

13. See Catechism of the Catholic Church, Profession of Faith chap I paragraph 392 410. http://www.vatican.Va/ archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm accessed 30.06.2016.

14. Soumyajit Samanta, Lovescape Crucified: A Study of Gerard Manley Hopkins (New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2005), p.81—2.

15. Paul Mariani, op. cit. p. 162.

16. Some German grammarians, e,g. Johann Christoph Gottsched, refer to this as “die gewisse zukünftige Zeit“ (or: indicative certain future), the Latin form being “tempus futurum certum”. See Eric Achermann (ed.), Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700—1766): Philosophie, Poetik und Wissenschaft (Berlin: Akademie Verlag GmbH, 2014) p. 265.

17. One critic, John Robinson, has provided a sound interpretation the first line, which I won’t attempt to improve on; he writes of the image of God’s power that it is: “Metaphorically akin to electric current, which also has the quality of existing in a way that is invisible yet there for the senses, a source of enormous power.” John Robinson, In Extremity: A Study of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980) p. 87.

18. Catherine Phillips (ed.) Gerard Manley Hopkins Selected Letters (Oxford: OUP, 1991) to RB Jan. 4, 1883: “I mean foil in the sense of leaf or tinsel […]. Shaken goldfoil gives off broad glares like sheet lightning and also, and this is true of nothing else, owing to its zigzag dints and creasings and network of small many cornered facets, a sort of fork lightning too.”

19. Particularly as one of Richardson’s main principles was to rely on etymology. Richardson writes in his preface: “As prominent characteristic features of this book, then, it may be proper to remark – That the Explanations are founded upon the Etymologies: that the intrinsic meaning is thus explained: and that the various usages or applications are then deduced.

20. Cf. Norman H. MacKenzie, A Reader’s Guide to Gerard Manley Hopkins (London: Thames and Hudson, 1981) p. 66.

2. The scene is introduced with the intertitle “Schicht” (“Shift”), and is just over a minute in length, providing an horrific vision of hell. It can be accessed under: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x_37i79QGg

22. Charles Richardson, LL.D., A New Dictionary of the English Language (London: Bell and Daldy, Fleet Street, 1860).

23. J.R. Watson, The Poetry of G.M. Hopkins, A Critical Study (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1987) p. 75.

24. The phrase “deep down things”, if we follow Gardner and McKenzie, can be interpreted Hopkins’ inscape for 'individually distinctive beauty or [...] essence' (Gardner and McKenzie, The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins p.xx).

25 In Hopkins' later ‘Terrible Sonnets' such imagery becomes frequent.

26 Some critics, on the other hand, have seen the colour as symbolic of the brown sky of a coal-fuelled industrial terrain — not a view the present writer would agree with.

27. The line notation for the quotations is taken from then Signet Classic edition of Hamlet (New York: Signet Classics, 1963) edited by Edward Hubler.

28. Daniel Brown, Gerard Manley Hopkins (Tavistock: Northcote House 2004) p. 84.

29. R.K.R. Thornton, Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Poems (London: Edward Arnold, 1973) p. 36.


Achermann, Eric (ed.), Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700—1766): Philosophie, Poetik und Wissenschaft (Berlin: Akademie Verlag GmbH, 2014).

Brown, Daniel, Gerard Manley Hopkins (Tavistock: Northcote House 2004).
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Profession of Faith http://www.vatican.Va/archive/ccc_css/ archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm accessed 30.06.2016.

Eagleton, Terry “Nature and Fall in Hopkins a reading of ‘God’s Grandeur’” Essays in Criticism 23(1) January 1973.

Gardner and McKenzie, The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins.

House, Humphrey & Storey, Graham (eds.), The Journals and Papers of Hopkins London: OUP, 1966).

Hubler, Edward (ed.), Daniel Brown, Gerard Manley Hopkins (Tavistock: Northcote House 2004).

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Nicholson, D. H. S. & Lee, A. H. E. (eds.), The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse (1917).

Phillips, Catherine (ed.), Gerard Manley Hopkins Selected Letters (Oxford: OUP, 1991).

Richardson, Charles, A New Dictionary of the English Language (London: Bell and Daldy, Fleet Street, 1860).

Robinson, John, In Extremity: A Study of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).

Samanta, Soumyajit, Lovescape Crucified: A Study of Gerard Manley Hopkins (New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2005).

Sulloway, Alison G., Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Victorian Temper (New York: Columbia University Press: 1989).

Thornton, R.K.R., Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Poems (London: Edward Arnold, 1973).

Watson, J.R., The Poetry of G.M. Hopkins, A Critical Study (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1987).

White, Norman, Hopkins: A Literary Biography (Oxford: OUP, 1992).

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