Show Your Acquaintance With Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Victorian poet born in 1844 and passing away in 1889, is renowned for his innovative and highly original verse, which has significantly influenced modern poetry. Despite his work being published posthumously and receiving recognition only decades after his death, Hopkins is now regarded as one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era.

Hopkin is a religious writer who first turns to the exploration of his own personality to test the validity of religious experience. The tradition of catholism which he inherited at his conversion is represented in his poetry in entirely personal terms. He is called the master of modernity. He also saw the signature of God on all creation. He says: “Glory to be God for dappled things.

Hopkin’s poetry is a poetry of incarnation. His oneness with God is oneness with christ, both as God and man. His devotion to God is essential element in his poetry. The moment of pure illumination in his verse are always concerned with christ, God the son, the incarnate. The suffering which Hopkins describes in the so called ‘terrible’ Sonnets are dark rights in which the soul becomes obscured both by its individual infedility to God and by the fallen state of all mankind. Hopkins never forgets the necessity of suffering. There is no masochism in Hopkin’s agonies. He recognizes that suffering is the part of condition of man, a condition that has been made sweet and acceptable by christ’s passion and death.

He is one of the greatest nature poets is English. With a marked difference, his poetry reminds us of great Romantics of early 19th century. A vision of the Mermaids’ reminds us the sensuous love nature. In this poem a vivid picture of the sunset and rich coloured pictures of flowers. waters, and other natural objects. Plant tree, cloud, bird, water, hill show the observer of the nature. His journals are full of vivid accounts to landscape, seascape and skyscape.

In the field of sonnets Hopkins employs no complex reasoning to move from the physical dimension to the spiritual, which he employed in The Wreck of the Deutschland”. In ‘Hurrahing in Harvest, after describing the azurous, hills as the majestic and world wielding shoulder of christ. Hopkins goes on to say:

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These things, these things were here and but the beholder

Wanting: which two when they once meet,

The heart rears wings bold…….

Biographical Background:

  • Hopkins was born in England and raised in a devout Anglican family. He later converted to Roman Catholicism and became a Jesuit priest, a decision that profoundly influenced his life and work.
  • His religious vocation and spiritual struggles are central themes in many of his poems.

Literary Career and Major Works:

  • Hopkins did not see the publication of his poems during his lifetime, as he largely refrained from publishing his work, following the conventions of his religious order.
  • His most famous works include “The Windhover,” “Pied Beauty,” “God’s Grandeur,” and “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” among others. These poems showcase his innovative use of language, rhythm, and imagery.

Themes and Style:

  • Hopkins is known for his concept of ‘inscape’ and ‘instress,’ which reflect his belief in the uniqueness of every aspect of God’s creation and the interconnectedness between all living things. These ideas deeply inform his poetic vision and style.
  • His poetry often explores themes of nature, faith, and the divine presence in the natural world. Hopkins also delves into personal despair, spiritual longing, and the search for redemption.
  • Stylistically, Hopkins is famous for his use of ‘sprung rhythm,’ a meter in which the number of stressed syllables in a line is fixed, but the number of unstressed syllables may vary. This approach allowed him greater flexibility and expressiveness in his verse.

Influence and Legacy:

  • Hopkins’s work was largely unknown until his friend Robert Bridges published a collection of his poems in 1918. Since then, his reputation has grown tremendously, and he is now considered a major Victorian poet.
  • His innovative techniques, especially his use of sprung rhythm and his rich, descriptive language, have influenced many modern poets. Hopkins’s ability to combine deep spirituality with intense observations of nature makes his work unique.

Critical Reception:

  • Initially, Hopkins’s poetry was seen as unconventional and challenging due to its complex language and unusual meter. Over time, however, critics have come to appreciate his work for its lyrical beauty, emotional intensity, and intellectual depth.


Gerard Manley Hopkins stands as a significant figure in English literature, notable for his deeply spiritual and artistically innovative poetry. His work, characterized by a unique blend of religious fervor and a profound appreciation for the natural world, continues to be celebrated for its originality, expressiveness, and its powerful exploration of faith and the human condition.



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