Week Sixteen Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) ‘ [No Worst, There Is None. Pitched Past Pitch of Grief]’
Sprung Rhythm (according to Hopkins)
Sprung Rhythm, as used in this book, is measured by feet of from one to four syllables, regularly, and for particular effects any number of weak or slack syllables may be used.
It has one stress, which falls on the only syllable, if there is only one, if there are more, then scanning as above, on the first, and so gives rise to four sorts of feet, a monosyllable and the so-called accentual Trochee, Dactyl, and the First Paeon.
And there will be four corresponding natural rhythms; but nominally the feet are mixed and any one may follow any other.
And hence Sprung Rhythm differs from Running Rhythm in having or being only one nominal rhythm, a mixed or ‘logaoedic’ one, instead of three, but on the other hand in having twice the flexibility of foot, so that any two stresses may either follow one another running or be divided by one, two, or three slack syllables.
But strict Sprung Rhythm cannot be counterpointed. In Sprung Rhythm, as in logaoedic rhythm generally, the feet are assumed to be equally long or strong and their seeming inequality is made up by pause or stressing.
‘ [No Worst, There Is None. Pitched Past Pitch of Grief]’
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, world-sorrow; on an age-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’.
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep, Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.
Locate the stresses in the poem
Can you find an overall ‘pattern’?
What are the fundamental differences between ‘sprung rhythm’ and ‘running rhythm’?
What are the advantages of Hopkins’ system?
In other poems Hopkins indicates where the stresses lie: what do you make of this?
What is causing the “pangs”?
What does the phrase “schooled at forepangs” mean?
What is the “comforter”?
What is the “ age-old anvil”?
What are the “mountains” of the “mind”?
What does the poet “hold … cheap”?
How does the mind “deal” with “steep or deep” emotions?
What kind of “comfort” is offered by the end of the poem?
The unified complex of characteristics that give each thing its uniqueness and that differentiates it from other things.
Either the force of being which holds the inscape together or the impulse from the inscape which carries it whole into the mind of the beholder.