Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hopkins and Ship Wrecks

Mount St. Mary's College, Chesterfield.

April 2, 1878.

My Dearest Bridges,--Your last letter was very kind indeed, but I should have lost all shame if under any circumstances I had allowed such a thing to be as for you to come hundreds of miles to cure me.

I am overjoyed to hear of your and Mrs. Molesworth's intercourse with Oak Hill.

It was pleasing and flattering to hear that Mr. Pater remembers and takes an interest in me.

My muse turned utterly sullen in the Sheffield smoke-ridden air and I had not written a line till the foundering of the Eurydice the other day and that worked on me and I am making a poem--in my own rhythm but in a measure something like Tennyson's Violet (bound with Maud); e.g.--

They say who saw one sea-corpse cold
How he was of lovely manly mould,
Every inch a tar,
Of the best we boast seamen are.

Look, from forelock down to foot he,
Strung by duty is strained to beauty
And russet-of-morning-skinned
With the sun, salt, and whirling wind.

Oh! his nimble finger, his gnarled grip!
Leagues, leagues of seamanship
Slumber in his forsaken
Bones and will not, will not waken.

I have consistently carried out my rhyming system, using the first letter of the next line to complete the rhyme in the line before it.
Well, write those things that 'will tickle me'.

The Deutschland would be more generally interesting if there were more wreck and less discourse, I know, but still it is an ode and not primarily a narrative. There is some narrative in Pindar but the principal business is lyrical. This poem on the Eurydice is hitherto almost all narrative however.

And what are you doing?
From notices in the Athenaeum it would appear that Gosse, Dobson, and Co. are still fumbling with triolets, villanelles, and what not.

Believe me your affectionate friend.

-from The Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges edited with notes & an introduction by Claude Colleer Abbott (London: Oxford University Press, 1935) p.47-49.

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