Language and tone in I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark

Quiet misery

This is a most uncomfortable sonnet. There are moments of softness, as in ‘To dearest him that lives alas! away', where the interjection of ‘alas!' combined with ‘dearest' and ‘away' softens the desolation. But such moments are rare.

There is no great sense of drama:

  • the tone is understated, adding, in a strange way, to its misery
  • the language is very monosyllabic (as with a number of the terrible sonnets): the first line is the most obvious example
  • alliteration is muted
  • there is little repetition or parallelism.

All this adds to the quiet misery of the poem.

Investigating I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark
  • Does any of the alliteration strike you in reading the poem?
  • Work out the percentage of monosyllabic words to polysyllabic ones.
    • Why does Hopkins use such a high proportion, do you think
    • What effect does it have?
  • Do you notice an absence of harsh consonant sounds?
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