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‘My own heart let me more have pity on’: A Poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins

‘My own heart let me more have pity on; let / Me live to my sad self hereafter kind, / Charitable’: so begins this sonnet by one of the Victorian era’s most innovative poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89). Written in the mid-1880s in Ireland, when Hopkins was suffering from depression, ‘My own heart let me more have pity on’ is one of Hopkins’s ‘Terrible Sonnets’, so named because of the dark moods of comfortlessness they record. In this sonnet, Hopkins begins by begging his own self to have pity on … his own heart.

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s ‘Carrion Comfort’

A commentary on one of Hopkins’s ‘Terrible Sonnets’

The mid-1880s was not a good time for Gerard Manley Hopkins. Lonely in Ireland, the poet fell into a black pit of depression, out of which came the ‘Terrible Sonnets’ which represent, after his flurry of creativity in 1876-77, the most productive time of his poetic career. ‘Carrion Comfort’ is perhaps the most famous of these sonnets. Before we proceed to a commentary on the poem, here’s a reminder of it.

Carrion Comfort

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee? Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s ‘No Worst, There Is None’

A commentary on one of Hopkins’s ‘Terrible Sonnets’

‘No Worst, There Is None’ is one of a group of sonnets the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89) wrote when he was suffering from depression in the 1880s, while living in Ireland. These are known as the ‘Terrible Sonnets’ because of the terrible fits of misery and despair which inspired them, and which they so brilliantly capture. Before we proceed to offer a few words of analysis of ‘No Worst, There Is None’, here’s a reminder of the poem.

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing —
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked ‘No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief.’ Read the rest of this entry