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Labyrinths of DeceitCulture, Modernity and Identity in the Nineteenth Century$
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Richard J. Walker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780853238492

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315404

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Dead letters: Gerard Manley Hopkins's ‘Terrible Sonnets’

Dead letters: Gerard Manley Hopkins's ‘Terrible Sonnets’

Chapter:
(p.175) 7 Dead letters: Gerard Manley Hopkins's ‘Terrible Sonnets’
Source:
Labyrinths of Deceit
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846315404.010

Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote six sonnets that can be grouped together as the ‘terrible sonnets’: ‘To Seem the Stranger’, ‘I Wake and Feel’, ‘Patience’, ‘My Own Heart’, ‘Carrion Comfort’, and ‘No Worst, There Is None’. These sonnets all represent a poetic articulation of desolation and abandonment and the progression from grief and despair to personal redemption. It highlights some of the constituent symptoms of religious anguish, and in particular the fragmentation of the poetic identity. Its interpretation of physical decay is situated within a conventionally orthodox Christian context compared to that of Alfred Tennyson and James Thomson. Hopkins expresses the dehumanising and disidentifying process of grief experienced through the failure of the colloquy with God, rendering the world meaningless.

Keywords:   Gerard Manley Hopkins, sonnets, God, grief, redemption, identity, religious anguish, physical decay, desolation, despair

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