Compounds and neologisms in The Wreck of the Deutschland

Compound words

Hopkins' use of hyphenated compounds is one of the most notable features of his style. There are just too many to list here, but some examples are:

  • ‘fall-gold' (23); ‘rare-dear' (35); ‘heaven-haven' (35); ‘the-last-breath' (34); ‘sodden-with-its-sorrowing' (27).

The final two lines of the poem are joined with apostrophes, not hyphenated, but really form huge compounds.

A few compounds are not hyphenated, but just joined, as in ‘dovewinged' (3).

Investigating compounds in The Wreck of the Deutschland
  • List six of your favourite compounds in the poem.
    • What appeals to you about them?


Hopkins' use of neologisms is another striking feature of his diction:

  • Some are technical, such as ‘lovescape' (23), which links with Hopkins' ideas on ‘inscape'.
  • Others are typically made from negating adjectives, such as ‘unchilding, unfathering' (13) or ‘unmade'(1).
Investigating neologism in The Wreck of the Deutschland
  • What new words have you found in the poem that have made an impact on you?

We could discuss alliteration here, as this is a feature of the diction and style, but as Hopkins uses it much as a structuring device, we will reserve discussion till the next section.

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