Gerard Manley Hopkins, selected poems Contents
- As Kingfishers Catch Fire
- Binsey Poplars
- The Blessed Virgin Mary Compared to the Air We Breathe
- Carrion Comfort
- Duns Scotus' Oxford
- God's Grandeur
- Harry Ploughman
- Henry Purcell
- Hurrahing in Harvest
- I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark
- Synopsis of I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark
- Commentary on I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark
- Language and tone in I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark
- Structure and versification in I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark
- Imagery and symbolism in I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark
- Themes in I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark
- The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo
- Synopsis of The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo
- Commentary on The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo
- Language and tone in The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo
- Structure and versification in The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo
- Imagery and symbolism in The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo
- Themes in The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo
- The May Magnificat
- My Own Heart, Let Me Have More Pity On
- Synopsis of My Own Heart, Let Me Have More Pity On
- Commentary on My Own Heart, Let Me Have More Pity On
- Language and tone in My Own Heart, Let Me Have More Pity On
- Structure and versification in My Own Heart, Let Me Have More Pity On
- Imagery and symbolism in My Own Heart, Let Me Have More Pity On
- Themes in My Own Heart, Let Me Have More Pity On
- No Worst, There is None
- Patience, Hard Thing!
- Pied Beauty
- The Sea and the Skylark
- Spelt from Sibyl's Leaves
- Spring and Fall
- St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
- The Starlight Night
- That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection
- Synopsis of That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire
- Commentary on That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire
- Language and tone in That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire
- Structure and versification in That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire
- Imagery and symbolism in That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire
- Themes in That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire
- Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord
- Tom's Garland
- To Seem the Stranger
- To What Serves Mortal Beauty
- The Windhover
- The Wreck of the Deutschland
- Synopsis of The Wreck of the Deutschland
- Commentary on The Wreck of the Deutschland
- Language and tone in The Wreck of the Deutschland
- Structure and versification in The Wreck of the Deutschland
- Imagery and symbolism in The Wreck of the Deutschland
- Themes in The Wreck of the Deutschland
- Beauty and its purpose
- The beauty, variety and uniqueness of nature
- Christ's beauty
- Conservation and renewal of nature
- God's sovereignty
- The grace of ordinary life
- Mary as a channel of grace
- Nature as God's book
- Night, the dark night of the soul
- Serving God
- Suffering and faith
- The temptation to despair
- The ugliness of modern life
- Understanding evil in a world God has made
Hopkins - Oxford and Conversion
Gerard Manley Hopkins - Life at Balliol
At the end of 1862, Hopkins won an exhibition (or scholarship) to Balliol College, one of the colleges of Oxford University. He began studying there in the April of 1863. His main course of study, lasting four years, was in Humanities (or Literae Humaniores, to give the course its full title), and consisted of:
- the study of Latin and Greek
- some history, philosophy and logic
- religious education.
Hopkins really enjoyed Oxford life, writing a considerable amount of poetry, and studying art, perhaps with the idea of becoming an artist-poet. He had excellent teachers there, including:
- T.H.Green, one of the leading philosophers of the day
- Benjamin Jowett, a theologian and Greek scholar with some unorthodox ideas
- Walter Pater, a well-known literary critic and writer on aesthetics (the study of the beautiful).
Hopkins turned out to be an excellent student and at his degree exams gained a ‘double first’, the highest classification possible.
Hopkins's changing religious outlook
When Hopkins arrived at university, he was a devout and committed High Church Anglican. He even started to go to confession, which was not at all obligatory for Anglicans, though it was for Roman Catholics.
The Oxford Movement
Oxford was the centre of belief and practice of the Oxford Movement, especially under its leading theologians, Edward Pusey, Professor of Hebrew, and John Keble. However, several leading Oxford High Church Anglicans had become Roman Catholics, including John Henry Newman. The shock waves caused by these moves were still subsiding when Hopkins came to Oxford.
Hopkins was essentially an idealist, and as he read some of the debate about these issues, he became increasingly convinced that the Church of England was a compromise between Catholicism on the one hand, and fully fledged Protestantism on the other- a compromise that he found it difficult to hold on to logically. He also seems to have been attracted to several Catholic teachings, especially the doctrine of transubstantiation which is concerned with the meaning of Communion or Mass, the central act of Christian worship. High Church Anglicanism was not just losing the battle with the Catholics, but also with the Latitudinarians, led by Benjamin Jowett. Hopkins began to question his own attitude to Anglicanism.
The repercussions of change
In these days, it is difficult to imagine the cost of conversion from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. To most people to-day, it might seem no more significant than choosing which supermarket to shop at. At the time, however, it was as significant as changing from one religion to another might be today, an action which can still bring rejection by one’s family or community.
This was the risk Hopkins was running when, in July 1866, he decided to enter the Roman Catholic church. He was so afraid of what his family would think that he delayed telling them till the very last moment.
They were deeply shocked. His father asked Hopkins’ Anglican mentor to persuade him against such a move. In the end, he accepted Hopkins back into the family, though only under the condition he did not try to convert his brothers and sisters.
Hopkins' new direction
Hopkins had been helped greatly in his conversion by John Henry Newman, who was based in Birmingham, at the Oratory Church, which he had founded. When Hopkins graduated, he went to the Oratory School to do some teaching.
Whilst there, he felt a real urge to become a priest. He could have trained to become a parish priest, but instead became attracted to the Jesuits, or the Society of Jesus as they are officially called. This meant becoming part of a religious order, living in highly disciplined semi-monastic conditions during and after a long training, and being sent wherever the Order chose.
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