Structure and versification in St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

The sestet is more difficult, mainly through the sparcity of punctuation. The last four lines have none, except for a parenthesis. Otherwise, the versification is relatively straightforward. Hopkins has turned back to a disciplined and regular sonnet form of iambic pentameters after his recent efforts to expand it (see That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire). In fact some lines barely have five stressed syllables (e.g. ll.4, 5, 14). Others have shared stresses, such as ‘gashed flesh', ‘galled shield' or ‘tall trees'.

The rhyming of the sestet is orthodox, dividing it into two tercets in a barely noticeable way. We notice some typical Hopkins diction: ‘gashed', ‘galled', ‘hurtle'. The rhythm of the last line catches exactly the rhythm of Milton's sonnet's last line quoted above.

Investigating St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
  • How much do you know about how the Catholic church makes saints?
    • Do we, as a society, give honours to apparently insignificant people?
    • Pick out phrases that contrast human and divine perspectives.
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