Saturday, March 23, 2013


In my continuing study of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, I came across these insightful sentences about the mysterious power of his strange uses of sound:

"In Hopkins, as we have seen, we have a mind that loves the uniqueness of things, yet passionately asserts their unity in God. When the poet turns to language, his available resource for expression of this doubly-viewed world, what does he see? He sees words, and certainly he felt about words as he felt about the objects of nature and experience: they are infinitely various and infinitely valuable. All his manipulations of vocabulary suggest this passion for words: his coinages, his often irritating archaisms, his specialized diction. The world of words was treated by Hopkins much as he treated the world of sense as a vast variety shop in which each individual inscape has its own uniqueness and preciousness and is to be admired for its own sake. "

"For [Hopkins] was able, by his control of certain sound likenesses, to go right on communicating what was his Great Fact: that all things, even words, are interconnected and have meaning in God." 
--  Walker Gibson (New York University), "Sound and Sense in G.M. Hopkins", Modern Language Notes, 1958

This expresses almost exactly the way I feel about words -- their wildness, their infiniteness, and their inescapable connection with God.

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