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A biography of celebrated poet gerard manley hopkins

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Alamy Fun literary fact: He was wrong about that. Trivia buffs will know those initials: It feels like a historical oddity because the pair are otherwise so incongruous: Gerard Manley Hopkinsas we now call him, was small, pious and serious, living a life of obedience in the strictest of the Catholic orders after his conversion to the faith. Wilde was by contrast large, debauched and flippant, dazzling the smartest salons and heading for a terrible fall.

That they nearly rubbed pages in a Jesuit journal was probably as close as they were ever going to come. But the two men have more in common than that. The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins Read more Hopkins is rightly loved and venerated by Catholics for the intensity with which he expressed his religious devotion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

But with the centenary of his first publication falling next year, it is time that Hopkins was given a place in the canon of gay letters, alongside more obvious contemporaries such as Henry James. Born in Stratford, east London in 1844, Hopkins was the eldest child of a shipping insurer. In an age where young men tended to express difference through the prism of religion, Hopkins was instinctively drawn to the bells-and-smells worship of the High Church.

He eventually went a good deal further, converting to Catholicism in 1866 and joining the priesthood, but not before his heart had been broken by a self-consciously outrageous young poet called Digby Mackworth Dolben he met while studying at Oxford University. Dolben was expelled from Eton not for his flagrant love affair with another boy, but for wandering the countryside dressed as a barefoot, medieval monk.

  • So in 1875 he was moved to take up poetry once more and write a lengthy poem, " The Wreck of the Deutschland ";
  • Dixon also at one point had given up his religious commitment to become a Pre-Raphaelite painter, but, unlike other members of the group, Dixon finally did take Holy Orders;
  • Education Born in 1844 to a comfortable Anglican family in the London suburb of Stratford, Essex, he was the oldest child of nine, and his father, Manley Hopkins, owned a firm that insured ships against wreck and damage.

Instead, his vice was poetry. As his order frowned on such things, he toiled privately, composing verse in a radical system of metrics of his own devising.

Unfortunately, with its complicated syntax and unconventional form, it baffled all who saw it. When he died of typhoid in 1889, aged just 44, virtually none of his poetry had been published. It was not until 1918 that his university friend Robert Bridges — by then the poet laureate — published a collected edition.

By the mid-20th century, Hopkins was regarded as a visionary genius. Although his work is overwhelmingly religious, a frequent theme is the physical beauty of working men, as well as of Christ, and the frenzied repetitions and climaxes of his verse seem to speak strongly of pent-up passion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins: the poet priest who deserves a place in the gay canon

As Woods puts it: This madcap scheme to stir up Hopkins mania is entirely cynical, but I hope my novel may generate an interest in this neglected poet for better reasons. A century after his first publication, I hope we can come to think of him as part of the same canon as Wilde, united by more than near-coincidence in a Jesuit periodical. You can view a one minute trailer here.

  • Do you think that the two are compatible?
  • As a priest he loved his fellow Jesuits, his students, and his parishioners, and as a poet he loved his creativity and the words and images and rhythms and sounds of his poems;
  • Hopkins agreed with his father and uncle that man seemed "backward" in comparison with nature, especially in " God's Grandeur ," " Spring ," " In the Valley of the Elwy " 1877 , "The Sea and the Skylark" 1877 , " Binsey Poplars ," " Duns Scotus's Oxford " 1879 , and "Ribblesdale" 1882;
  • His use of sprung rhythm was new and quite different from that of his contemporaries;
  • Nature Poetry Hopkins continued to experiment with style, language, and meter.