Imagery and symbolism in To Seem the Stranger

Married to England

The most unexpected image, perhaps, is in calling England ‘wife/ To my creating thoughts'. Technically, many of Hopkins' happiest poems were written in Wales! But somehow he feels being out of England is emotionally barren, though she is a wife who no longer listens to her husband:

  • Usually, we associate marriage imagery to do with Catholic orders in terms of Christ as the spouse, symbolised by nuns wearing wedding rings, so it seems almost sacrilegious here (See also Big ideas: Bride and marriage)
  • Imagery of procreation continues in ‘woos' and ‘breeds'
  • Otherwise, the imagery is remarkably low-key for Hopkins and certainly does not draw attention to itself.
Investigating To Seem the Stranger
  • Why do you think the imagery is so low-key?
    • What other imagery strikes you?
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