Language and tone in My Own Heart, Let Me Have More Pity On


The most marked feature of the poem is its ellipsis. This means that words are omitted, concentrating the sense, and leaving us to amplify it with our own understanding. Thus, these lines need the following words adding to make sense:

‘By groping round my comfortless world, than blind
Eyes in their dark world can find daylight or thirsty person can find (water)'

The actual use of the word ‘room' is delayed till the next line. Such ellipsis is frequently found in Latin.


There is also the use of repetition, common with Hopkins, as ‘all-in-all in all' (l.8), or ‘let me' or ‘let be'. The use of ‘let' also suggests Hopkins' tone of pleading and supplication, with himself rather than with God.


One or two of the compounds are unusual:

  • ‘Jackself' is formed from the idiomatic use of the name ‘Jack' to refer to a common fellow or ordinary man and Hopkins addressing himself. He is talking to himself as an ordinary man
  • ‘Betweenpie' is a striking compound: ‘pie' refers to the meaning ‘pied' or ‘dappled', but here it is used as a verb. Thus the compound comes to mean ‘as skies seem dappled when they appear between mountains', a brief reference to the nature that has previously inspired Hopkins, but which no longer seems in evidence in these dark sonnets
  • The lightening of the mood in this last line is well caught in the alliteration of ‘lights a lovely'.
Investigating My Own Heart
  • Comment on the repetition ‘tormented/tormenting' in ll.3-4.
    • How does the repetition support its meaning?
  • Compare the use of ‘heart' here to its use in other sonnets; and also ‘mind'.
    • Why does Hopkins not address ‘mind' in this sonnet?
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