Few have expressed their love of God and His created world with language as muscular or wild as that of Gerard Manley Hopkins. A Scottish Jesuit active during the height of Queen Victoria's reign, his poems demonstrate deep piety and a liberal passion for written language and its audible sounds.
He invented many words, and took a pioneering approach to poetry that baffled most of his contemporaries. His use of sprung rhythm was particularly novel—sprung rhythm imitates the natural rhythms of everyday speech, a serious divergence from the contrived verse of Hopkins's day.
One of his best poems is Inversnaid. In it, he celebrates God through the celebration of the Scottish wilderness in terms that evoke the untamed nature of the place. The first stanza is hard to forget:
This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
All the stanzas will stick with you, along with every other poem Hopkins wrote. He had a truly unique voice of a kind that's hard to come by. His Christian faith permeates his work, making this a real devotional and aesthetic experience.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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