'To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life' by Gerard Manley Hopkins


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To seem the stranger lies my lot, my life
Among strangers. Father and mother dear,
Brothers and sisters are in Christ not near
And he my peace my parting, sword and strife.
England, whose honour O all my heart woos, wife
To my creating thought, would neither hear
Me, were I pleading, plead nor do I: I wear-
y of idle a being but by where wars are rife.

I am in Ireland now; now I am at a thrd
Remove. Not but in all removes I can
Kind love both give and get. Only what word
Wisest my heart breeds dark heaven's baffling ban
Bars or hell's spell thwarts. This to hoard unheard,
Heard unheeded, leaves me a lonely began.

Editor 1 Interpretation

To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life: A Deeper Understanding

Gerard Manley Hopkins is known for his intricate and complex style of writing that often requires a deeper interpretation. His poem "To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life" is no exception, and upon reading it, the reader is left with a sense of confusion, but also a sense of understanding. This poem is a reflection of the human experience, the desire for belongingness, and the struggle to find one's place in the world. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes and literary devices used in "To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life" and how they contribute to the overall meaning of the poem.

The Theme of Belongingness

Throughout the poem, Hopkins emphasizes the theme of belongingness, especially the desire to belong. The speaker constantly refers to himself as a stranger and an outsider, highlighting the sense of displacement he feels in the world. He describes his life as one that is "unblest," and he longs for a place where he can fit in and feel accepted. The theme of belongingness is also evident in the use of the word "home," which appears several times in the poem. The speaker describes his yearning for a home, a place where he can feel safe and secure, and where he can be himself without fear of rejection.

The theme of belongingness is further emphasized in the form of the poem. Hopkins uses a sonnet form, which traditionally expresses themes of love and relationships. This form highlights the speaker's desire for a relationship, not necessarily a romantic one, but rather a relationship with the world around him. He wants to feel connected to others and to the world, but he feels like an outsider, a stranger. The sonnet form also creates a sense of intimacy between the speaker and the reader, as if the speaker is confiding in the reader, sharing his innermost thoughts and feelings.

The Literary Devices Used in the Poem

Hopkins uses several literary devices in "To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life" to convey his message. One of the most prominent devices used is imagery. Hopkins uses vivid and descriptive language to create images that evoke emotions and connect the reader to the speaker's experience. For example, in the second stanza, the speaker describes himself as a "bird of the wilderness," which creates an image of a bird flying alone in a vast, empty landscape. This image conveys the sense of isolation and loneliness that the speaker feels.

Another literary device used in the poem is repetition. Hopkins repeats the phrase "to seem the stranger lies my lot, my life" several times throughout the poem. This repetition emphasizes the speaker's sense of displacement and reinforces the theme of belongingness. The repetition also creates a sense of rhythm and pattern in the poem, which contributes to its musicality.

Hopkins also uses alliteration and consonance to create a musical quality in the poem. For example, in the third stanza, the phrase "deep-delved earth" uses repetition of the "d" sound, which creates a rhythm and adds to the musicality of the poem. Hopkins also uses consonance in the phrase "the dusk-drawn, aërie" in the fourth stanza, which creates a sense of movement and fluidity in the poem.

The Religious Element in the Poem

Hopkins was a devout Jesuit priest, and his religious beliefs are evident in his writing. In "To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life," Hopkins uses religious imagery to convey the speaker's sense of displacement and longing for belongingness. The speaker describes himself as a "soul" and a "pilgrim," which are both religious terms that convey a sense of spiritual searching and wandering. The speaker also uses the phrase "Christ's throne" in the sixth stanza, which suggests a longing for a spiritual home and a sense of belongingness in a religious context.

Hopkins also uses religious imagery to create a sense of transcendence in the poem. In the seventh and final stanza, the speaker describes the stars as "gems" and the sky as a "sea." This imagery creates a sense of vastness and expansiveness that suggests a spiritual dimension beyond the physical world. The use of religious imagery in the poem adds depth and complexity to the theme of belongingness, suggesting that the speaker's longing for belongingness extends beyond the physical world and into the spiritual realm.

Conclusion

"To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life" is a complex and intricate poem that explores the human experience of displacement and longing for belongingness. Through his use of imagery, repetition, and literary devices such as alliteration and consonance, Hopkins creates a musical quality in the poem that draws the reader in and emphasizes the speaker's sense of displacement. The use of religious imagery adds depth and complexity to the theme of belongingness, suggesting that the speaker's sense of displacement extends beyond the physical world and into the spiritual realm. Overall, "To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life" is a powerful and moving poem that speaks to the human experience of searching for a place of belongingness in the world.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life: A Masterpiece of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins, the renowned English poet, is known for his unique style of writing that combines religious themes with innovative language and imagery. His poem, "To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life," is a perfect example of his exceptional talent. This poem is a reflection of Hopkins' struggle with his faith and his sense of alienation from the world around him. In this article, we will explore the themes, language, and imagery used in this masterpiece of poetry.

Themes

The central theme of "To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life" is the feeling of alienation and isolation. Hopkins uses the metaphor of a stranger to describe his sense of detachment from the world. He feels like an outsider, someone who does not belong. This feeling is intensified by his religious beliefs, which set him apart from the secular world. Hopkins was a devout Catholic, and his faith was an essential part of his life. However, he struggled with the tension between his religious beliefs and the modern world. This tension is reflected in the poem, where he describes himself as a "stranger" in a world that does not understand him.

Language

Hopkins' use of language in this poem is innovative and experimental. He employs a variety of techniques to create a unique and powerful effect. One of the most striking features of his language is his use of compound words. For example, he writes, "To seem the stranger lies my lot, my life / Among strangers." The use of "stranger lies" as a compound word creates a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty. It suggests that the speaker's identity is not fixed, but rather, it is something that is constantly changing and evolving.

Another technique that Hopkins uses is alliteration. He repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of several words in a line. For example, he writes, "Fretted in his folded wings / As he rode our rocking and rising ridges." The repetition of the "r" sound creates a sense of movement and energy, which is appropriate for a poem that is about the speaker's struggle to find his place in the world.

Imagery

Hopkins' use of imagery in this poem is both vivid and powerful. He uses a variety of images to convey the sense of alienation and isolation that the speaker feels. For example, he writes, "I am gall, I am heartburn. / God's most deep decree / Bitter would have me taste." The use of the images of gall and heartburn suggests that the speaker is experiencing a sense of bitterness and discomfort. This is further reinforced by the image of God's decree, which suggests that the speaker's sense of alienation is part of a larger plan.

Another powerful image that Hopkins uses is that of the "stranger." He writes, "To seem the stranger lies my lot, my life / Among strangers." The use of this image creates a sense of distance and separation. It suggests that the speaker is not just physically separated from others, but that he is also emotionally and spiritually separated from them.

Conclusion

"To Seem The Stranger Lies My Lot, My Life" is a masterpiece of poetry that reflects Hopkins' struggle with his faith and his sense of alienation from the world. The poem is a powerful exploration of the themes of isolation and detachment, and it is filled with innovative language and vivid imagery. Hopkins' use of compound words, alliteration, and powerful images creates a unique and powerful effect that captures the reader's attention. This poem is a testament to Hopkins' exceptional talent as a poet and his ability to create works that are both beautiful and thought-provoking.

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