HumanitiesWeb.org - The 'Sprung Rhythm' of Gerard Manley Hopkins [Biography]
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Gerard Manley Hopkins
Biography



"Even with one companion ecstasy is almost banished: you want to be alone and to feel that, and leisure--all pressure taken off."
- written in his journal while travelling in Switzerland

Gerard Manley Hopkins entered Oxford in 1863 with the intention of becoming a minister in the Anglican Church, but instead he was converted to Roman Catholicism and was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1877. After serving in several parishes, including one in the working-class slums of Liverpool where he was distressed by the poverty and squalor, he was appointed Professor of Classics at University College, Dublin.

Hopkins was a sensitive and innovative poet who sometimes had difficulty reconciling his religious vocation with his poetic art. After his conversion, he burned all his early poems (though working copies survive) and did not write poetry again until 1875, when he composed his long poem The Wreck of the Deutschland, a memorial to five German nuns who had drowned in the disaster.

When he died, Hopkins left his manuscripts to his friend and fellow poet Robert Bridges. Convinced that Hopkins' poetry would be ignored if introduced too early, Bridges held up its publication for 29 years. When Hopkins' collected Poems appeared in 1918, they caused a sensation, and the poet was hailed as a brilliant innovator whose spirit was closer to that of the 20th century than to his own age.

contributed by Gifford, Katya


8 March 2002
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