Synopsis of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

This sonnet was written in 1888, one of only five poems completed over the last two years of Hopkins' life. It is written about a specific person who had died, as were the earlier poems Henry Purcell and Felix Randal. Just as there was a tension in those two poems, so there is here, between the life of an obviously famous person, full of exploits, and an unassuming, almost invisible person, who has yet, somehow, been made a saint (canonised is the technical term). It is a similar tension to that found in The Windhover and also Milton's famous sonnet On His Blindness, where the last line reads:

‘They also serve who only stand and wait.'

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