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Lecture 13

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English 2307E
Krista Lysack

English 2307E Thursday March 6 Lecture 13 Hopkins and Hardy Hopkins, “The Windhover” (continued from last class) • Hopkins uses sprung rhythm (the same number of stressed syllables, a variable number of unstressed symbols) o He uses this to try to replicate the feeling of the lurching in the activity of the poem (and a feeling of awe and ecstasy at the windhover’s ability to hang in the sky) • Hopkins isn’t just interested in expressing an emotion – he wants to create the profound experience for the readers • The windhover is the feeling for the divine experience of God’s presence • The Fall (line 10) o Suddenly, the bird that was hovering buckles and descends o It is puzzling because it was the windhover’s great ability to hover in the air (suggests an ‘undoing’) o We feel this fall (related to the fall of humanity, the fall away from God into sin) o The speaker declares that the fall is a billion times more spectacular than the hovering was (the fall was more beautiful than its flight)  This is somewhat an undoing of everything the speaker was saying before (how beautiful the hovering was) o Line 12: “sheer plod makes plough down sillion”  When you plough rich earth, the dirt begins to look shiny and rich  The windhover produces something lovely or more shiny o When hot blue coals break open, they reveal the red on the inside that is brighter than anything else  The descent/falls reveals something shinier and brighter  The windhover is characterized as a red bird, which can relate to fire • There is a link between the windhover and Christ, our Lord (the person the poem is dedicated to) o The fall of the windhover is related to the crucifixion of Jesus (Hopkins finds his own way to make us feel this) o Hopkins is trying to make a case that Christ’s life is all the more beautiful and meaningful for the fact of his death o “Felix culpa” (happy fall) – the idea that the death is the meaningful thing to take away from Jesus’ life  Humanity is better off having had the fall of Adam and Eve because it meant that Christ had to come to redeem humanity (the greater good)  It makes possible the presence of God in the world • If this works as a poem, it’s not because of our set of beliefs. If the affect of the poem is convincing, it is because Hopkins had constructed a poem that is carefully paced. o Hopkins sees poetry as a material form, something that can elicit affective responses • We feel like we’ve been somewhere (a journey) through this poem o Hopkins uses the feeling of ascent and descent in a dramatic way Hardy, “Hap” • Hardy wrote some novels, but his last novel was accused of being immoral, and Hardy returned to poetry • Hardy had a pessimistic and cruel view of the world (he had the view that life was controlled by fate, there was no higher order in the universe or higher meaning) o However, there is still a feeling of dignity and control, a quiet acceptance • Hardy is addressing a force in the world that he designates as “Hap” • The poem is a statement of faith, an anti-creed o An honest assessment of human destiny in a world ruled by chance (how one finds himself) • The beginning says that there is no benevolent God, but there isn’t even a vengeful God o At least a vengeful God would be a reason to say there is some point to all
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