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Saying Simply

Hopkins Texts


The stress indications in (1), (2), and (3) don’t in the least imply that those words or syllables should be spoken more loudly. On the contrary, when read in a normal tone of voice these lines become lighter and more natural in their rhythms than when overloaded with would-be expressive emphases.

There’s no way, though, given the inescapable first three stresses in line nine of “The Windhover,” of finding only two more in the rest of the line, so I guess that what we see here is Hopkins departing momentarily, for obvious dramatic purposes, from the norm that he himself has established. If the norm hadn’t been there, the drama, the focused exhilaration, would have been less.


(1) “God’s Grandeur” (octave)

The world´ is charged´ with´ the gran´deur of God.
It´ will flame out´, like shin´ing from shook´ foil´;
It gath´ers to a great´ness like the ooze´ of oil´
Crushed´. Why´ do men then now´ not reck´ his rod´?
Gen´erations´ 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´; the soil´
Is bare´ now, nor´ can foot´ feel, be´ing shod´....


(2) “The Windhover” (octave and start of sestet)

I caught´ this morn´ing morn´ing’s min´ion, king´-
dom of day´light’s dau´phin, dapp´le-dawn-drawn fal´con, in his rid´ing
Of the roll´ing lev´el underneath´ him steady air´, and strid´ing
High´ there, how he hung´ upon the rein´ of a wimp´ling wing
In his ec´stasy! Then off´, off´ forth´ on swing´,
As a skate’s´ heel sweeps smooth´ on a bow´ bend: the hurl´ and glid´ing
Rebuffed´ the big´ wind´. My heart´ in hid´ing
Stirred´ for a bird´,—the achieve´ of, the mast´ery of the thing´.

Brute beau´ty and val´our and act´, oh, air´, pride´, plume´ here


(3) “Ding Dong Bell” (nursery rhyme)

Ding´ Dong´ Bell´
Puss´y’s in´ the well´.
Who´ put´ him in´?
Litt´le John´ny Thin´.
Who´ pulled´ him out´?
Litt´le John´ny Stout´.


(4) “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves”

Let life, waned, ah let life wind
Off her once skeined stained veined variety upon, all on two spools; part, pen, pack
Now her all in two flocks, two folds—black, white; right, wrong; reckon but, reck but, mind
But these two....

[I can find no consistent base of emphases per line in “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves” (they seem to vary between seven and eight), and no naturally expressive speech rhythms. It takes an effort, too, to keep in mind that this is a Petrarchan sonnet. Personally I’ve long preferred “That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection.”]


(5) “The Starlight Night” (octave; marked for diction)

Look at the stars! Look, look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
Down in dim woods the diamond delves! The elves’-eyes!
The grey lawns cold where gold, where quickgold lies!
Wind-beat whitebeam! Airy abeles set on a flare!
Flake-doves sent floating forth at a farmyard scare!
Ah well! It is all a purchase, all is a prize.


(6) “Inversnaid” (first three stanzas; marked for diction)

This darksome burn, horseback brown
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.


(7) “Spring” (first five lines, marked for diction and syntax)

Nothing is so beautiful as spring
When weeds in wheels shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightning to hear him sing;….

[I was pleased when I finally realized that those wheels are literal wheels, old discarded wheels from farm vehicles, lying in farmyards with grasses growing up through them. I have seen them myself.]


(8) Journal passage

About all the turns of the scaping from the break and flooding of the wave to its run out again I have not yet satisfied myself. The shores are swimming and the eyes have before them a region of milky surf but it is hard for them to unpack the huddling and gnarl of the water and law out the shapes and the sequence of the running: I catch however the looped or forked wisp made by every big pebble the backwater runs over....; then I saw it run browner, the foam dwindling and twitched into long chains of suds, while the strength of the backdraught shrugged the stones together and clocked them one against another.


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Saying Simply Verlaine Mallarme Suspiciousness Referentiality Holderlin Yeats Hopkins Hopkins2 Woolf