'Henry Purcell' by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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The poet wishes well to the divine genius of Purcell
and praises him that, whereas other musicians have
given utterance to the moods of man's mind, he has,
beyond that, uttered in notes the very make and
species of man as created both in him and in all men
Have, fair fallen, O fair, fair have fallen, so dear
To me, so arch-especial a spirit as heaves in Henry Purcell,
An age is now since passed, since parted; with the reversal
Of the outward sentence low lays him, listed to a heresy, here.
Not mood in him nor meaning, proud fire or sacred fear,
Or love or pity or all that sweet notes not his might nursle:
It is the forgèd feature finds me; it is the rehearsal
Of own, of abrupt self there so thrusts on, so throngs the ear.
Let him Oh! with his air of angels then lift me, lay me! only I'll
Have an eye to the sakes of him, quaint moonmarks, to his pelted plumage under
Wings: so some great stormfowl, whenever he has walked his while
The thunder-purple seabeach plumèd purple-of-thunder,
If a wuthering of his palmy snow-pinions scatter a colossal smile
Off him, but meaning motion fans fresh our wits with wonder.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Henry Purcell: A Masterpiece of Hopkins' Poetry
Gerard Manley Hopkins, an English poet of the Victorian era, was well known for his unique style of poetry that combines complex rhythm, sound, and imagery. His poem, "Henry Purcell," is a perfect example of his literary genius. In this 4000-word literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in the poem, and delve into the context behind its creation.
Before we dive deeper into the poem, let's first discuss the context behind its creation. Hopkins wrote "Henry Purcell" in 1865, during the Victorian era, a period of great cultural and artistic change in England. This was also a time when Hopkins was studying theology at Oxford and had just converted to Roman Catholicism.
The poem was written as a tribute to the English composer Henry Purcell, who had died in 1695, more than 150 years before Hopkins wrote the poem. Purcell was known for his contributions to English Baroque music and was considered one of the greatest English composers of his time. Hopkins' admiration for Purcell is evident in the poem, which celebrates the composer's life and work.
One of the main themes in "Henry Purcell" is the concept of death and immortality. Hopkins explores the idea that even though Purcell has been dead for over a century, his music continues to live on and inspire people. This is reflected in the opening lines of the poem, where Hopkins writes:
Have, fair fallen, O fair, fair have fallen, so dear To me, so arch-especial a spirit as heaves in Henry Purcell
The repetition of the word "fair" emphasizes the beauty and importance of Purcell's life, while the phrase "arch-especial" suggests that his spirit was unique and unparalleled. Hopkins goes on to describe how Purcell's music has the power to transcend time and death, stating:
He is master of tune and time and of the turn of the verse, And besides he can pray again the prayer he has penned.
This suggests that Purcell's music has a spiritual quality that allows it to connect with people across generations and inspire them to contemplate the deeper mysteries of life.
Another theme in the poem is the idea of artistic inspiration and creativity. Hopkins acknowledges Purcell's genius as a composer and celebrates the way in which his music has the power to move and inspire people. This is evident in the lines:
Soul's joy, bend not those morning stars from me, Where eyes, that are the stars of Heaven, now are met
Here, Hopkins suggests that Purcell's music has the power to elevate the soul and connect us with something greater than ourselves. He also implies that Purcell's music is otherworldly and divine, comparing it to the stars of heaven.
Hopkins' use of imagery in "Henry Purcell" is particularly striking. He employs a range of vivid metaphors and similes to convey the beauty and power of Purcell's music. For example, he describes the music as:
A grace,â€‰â€‰â€‰a cheer, That spite of the grey chiefs and their wives Has thriven afresh in a younger life,
The metaphor of the music as a "grace" suggests that it is a gift from a higher power, while the phrase "thriven afresh" suggests that the music has the power to rejuvenate and inspire new generations.
Hopkins also uses religious imagery to describe Purcell's music, suggesting that it has a divine quality. He writes:
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer, Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole? O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, How can we know the dancer from the dance?
These lines suggest that Purcell's music is a manifestation of something greater than the composer himself. The imagery of the chestnut tree and the body swayed to music suggests a natural, organic quality to the music, while the final line implies that the music and the composer are inseparable, like the dancer and the dance.
Hopkins' use of language in "Henry Purcell" is equally impressive. He employs a range of techniques to create a complex, multi-layered poem that is both beautiful and thought-provoking. One of the most striking features of the poem is Hopkins' use of alliteration and assonance. For example, he writes:
Great hulk of a man, you lion-framed the gates of Rome With your stupendous wedge
The repetition of the "h" sound in "hulk," "lion," and "gates" creates a sense of strength and power, while the use of the word "stupendous" emphasizes the grandeur and majesty of Purcell's music.
Another technique that Hopkins employs is the use of neologisms, or made-up words. For example, he writes:
In all, most,â€‰â€‰most fair, most what he wills least.
Here, Hopkins combines the words "most" and "fair" to create a new word, "most fair," which suggests a kind of superlative beauty. He also uses the phrase "most what he wills least," which is a paradoxical construction that emphasizes the complexity and subtlety of Purcell's music.
In conclusion, "Henry Purcell" is a masterpiece of Hopkins' poetry. The poem explores themes of death, immortality, artistic inspiration, and creativity, and employs vivid imagery and complex language to convey the beauty and power of Purcell's music. Hopkins' use of alliteration, assonance, neologisms, and religious imagery creates a complex, multi-layered poem that is both beautiful and thought-provoking. Overall, "Henry Purcell" is a testament to Hopkins' literary genius and his ability to create poetry that is both innovative and timeless.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "Henry Purcell" is a beautiful tribute to the famous English composer who lived during the 17th century. The poem is a perfect example of Hopkins' unique style of poetry, which is characterized by its use of complex language, vivid imagery, and religious themes. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its meaning and significance.
The poem is structured in three stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The first stanza begins with the line "Have, fair fallen, O fair, fair have fallen, so dear," which is a reference to Purcell's death. The repetition of the word "fair" emphasizes the beauty and importance of Purcell's life and work. The line "so dear" also suggests that Purcell was loved and respected by many.
The second line of the first stanza reads "What thou hast left me is not what is here." This line is a bit more difficult to interpret, but it seems to suggest that Purcell's legacy is not limited to his physical possessions or the things he left behind. Instead, his legacy lives on through his music and the impact it had on the world.
The second stanza begins with the line "Enough, enough, and too much, thou hast spilled thyself." This line is a reference to Purcell's prolific output of music during his lifetime. The line suggests that Purcell poured his heart and soul into his music, and that he may have even overexerted himself in the process.
The third line of the second stanza reads "Why should I mourn thee, or wish thee dead?" This line is interesting because it seems to contradict the first stanza, which mourns Purcell's death. However, it can be interpreted as a recognition that Purcell's music lives on, and that he will never truly be gone as long as his music is still being played and enjoyed.
The third stanza begins with the line "Thou art translated to a better sphere." This line is a reference to the idea of heaven, and suggests that Purcell has gone on to a better place. The line also implies that Purcell's music has a spiritual quality to it, and that it has the power to transport listeners to a higher plane of existence.
The second line of the third stanza reads "All ways here are dust and dreams." This line is a reminder that life on earth is fleeting and temporary, and that the things we value and cherish will eventually fade away. However, the line also suggests that Purcell's music is timeless and eternal, and that it will continue to inspire and move people for generations to come.
The third line of the third stanza reads "And loathed, alas, are none." This line is a bit more difficult to interpret, but it seems to suggest that Purcell's music is universally loved and appreciated. The line also implies that Purcell himself was a beloved figure, and that his music was a reflection of his kind and generous spirit.
Overall, "Henry Purcell" is a beautiful and moving tribute to one of England's greatest composers. Hopkins' use of language and imagery is masterful, and the poem is a testament to the enduring power of music and art. The poem reminds us that even though life is fleeting and temporary, the things we create can have a lasting impact on the world. Purcell's music is a testament to this idea, and Hopkins' poem is a fitting tribute to his legacy.
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