Biblical images in TThe Wreck of the Deutschland

There are many biblical images, some of which have been pointed out in the summary.

Holy Spirit

Thus the Holy Spirit is pictured as ‘dovewinged' and ‘carrier witted' (3); ‘flame to the flame' (3); and ‘breath' (25).

Jesus Christ

Christ's Incarnation has a number of images which connect it with his death in stanza 7. Hopkins talks of ‘lovescape crucified' (23).

Further echoes

There are echoes of biblical images of:

  • the harvest (31); the ark (33); a crown (as martyr's reward) (25)

and theological ones regarding:

  • the Trinity (9) and rebellious mankind (9).

See Big Ideas from the Bible for a fuller development of some of these.

Biblical allusion

Some of the imagery is symbolic (as ark (33), flame, or dust (11)), but much is through allusions A literary allusion is a quote or verbal echo of imagery used in a subtext.


‘though our flowers the same / Wave with the meadow..' (11)

is an echo of and, therefore, allusion to the Bible (Isaiah 40:6-7). The main thread of symbolism is through the figure ‘five' (20,22,23).

Investigating biblical images in The Wreck of the Deutschland
  • Would you say Hopkins' imagery is difficult?
    • If you find it is, can you say wherein the difficulty lies?
  • What would you say are the most important images in the poem?
    • Are they descriptions or are they figurative?
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