Structure and versification in The Wreck of the Deutschland

Experimental poetry

For Hopkins, the Wreck of the Deutschland was very much an experimental poem:

  • he never again wrote such a complex poem in terms of its versification, or stanza structure
  • it was also his first opportunity to put his theory of sprung rhythm into practice. This theory was not just about metre and rhythm, but also about alliterative patterns.
More on Hopkins' scansion: W.H. Gardner in his book on Hopkins has examined the scansion of the Wreck of the Deutschland in Appendix A of Volume II. It is extremely detailed, and tries to fit it into Hopkins' theory perhaps rather more strictly than common sense would allow. But if you are really fascinated by the subject, do try to get hold of it.

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