Gerard Manley Hopkins Poetry

Gerard Manley Hopkins Poetry 

Gerard Manley Hopkins is a favorite here at EIL, as his poems are especially lovely for memorization and copywork. We will be expanding our collection of his poetry in the future, but here is a sample you can enjoy for now:

Gerard Manley Hopkins by Foreshaw & Coles
albumen carte-de-visite, 1880 (NPG P455)
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Creative Commons License

“God’s Grandeur”

“The Windhover”

“Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord”

“The Wreck of the Deutschland”

“Pied Beauty”

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

And here is one extra: Spring—

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.


Hopkins’ poetry is best experienced when read aloud, so you may find it helpful to listen to Richard Austin’s recitations of Hopkins’ poetry.

At Gerard Manley Hopkins: An Analytical Biography, you will find a helpful essay on Hopkins’s life and work. This was published in 1912, and is one author’s perspective on the life and poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. In the years since the essay was written, Hopkins’ reputation has continued to grow, and much more has been written about him. 

Though your reading of Hopkins’ work and understanding of his life may differ based on your own educational background, faith, literary taste and personal worldview, you will find this essay to be a helpful model for poetry analysis. Be sure to note how the author integrates lengthy quotes into her analysis; although the MLA punctuation used today is somewhat different, the author’s textual lead-ins are a good model.

The free study guide from SparkNotes may help you better understand Hopkins’ poetry. Remember—study guides are an aid; not an authority. The author’s understanding of the text is affected by his or her worldview/philosophy, education, and literary preferences. You may find that your understanding of a particular poem differs from that of the study guide author, and this is perfectly fine as long as you support your reading with evidence from the text.


When will you read Gerard Manley Hopkins’s writing in Excellence in Literature?

You will study Gerard Manley Hopkins in EIL Unit 4 (British Literature)


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