Alliterative patterns in The Wreck of the Deutschland

Hopkins also patterns his work with alliterations and caesurae.

Traditional alliterative patterns

In traditional alliterative verse, there's a set number of alliterating syllables before the mid-line break, or caesura, and a set number after.

Some of the lines in Hopkins' scheme are too short for him to do this, but in the long last lines, that pattern is well established.

  • thus, in the last line of stanza 33, the f-alliteration occurs once before a mid-line break, marked by a comma, once after, supplemented by an s-alliteration, exactly the same pattern as in the last line of the next stanza
  • by contrast, in stanza 32, the caesura is delayed till near the end of the line, giving greater significance to ‘bodes but abides', where the b-alliteration is very insistent.
Investigating alliterative patterns in The Wreck of the Deutschland
  • Take several other last lines.
    • See where the caesura comes, and what the alliterative pattern is.
  • Now take some of the pentameters (5-stressed lines).
    • Can you see a similar pattern or not?
  • Hopkins' flexible structure enables whole stanzas to vary greatly, not just individual lines.
    • Compare stanza 30 with 31.
      • How do the two stanzas contrast?
      • How does Hopkins achieve this?
    • Look also at the enjambement.
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