Language and tone in To Seem the Stranger

Weary verse

As with the imagery, Hopkins' language and tone seem very muted. There is perhaps a sense being ‘wear-/y' physically and emotionally. There is a little energy in the exclamation ‘O', but this is negated by ‘plead nor do I', a strangely contorted way of putting it.

The alliteration shows the same spark as earlier poems, especially:

  • ‘baffling ban/ Bars', paralleled by the internal rhyme of ‘hell's spell'
  • the word play ‘hoard/heard/heard/heed'
  • the assonance of'heed/leave'.

This is the maximum amount of his protest and frustration.

Investigating To Seem the Stranger
  • As with some of the other poems written about this time, notice the large proportion of monosyllables.
    • What effect do they have here?
  • Compare with Carrion Comfort.
    • For all Hopkins talks of not pleading, do you think the tone is pleading?
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