'The Child Is Father To The Man' by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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'The child is father to the man.'
How can he be? The words are wild.
Suck any sense from that who can:
'The child is father to the man.'
No; what the poet did write ran,
'The man is father to the child.'
'The child is father to the man!'
How can he be? The words are wild.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Child Is Father To The Man: A Critical Analysis
Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "The Child Is Father To The Man" is a remarkable piece of literature that has continued to intrigue and fascinate readers since its publication in 1918. The poem is a sonnet, which is a 14-line poem that follows a specific rhyme scheme and structure. In this essay, I will explore the themes, language, structure, and overall meaning of Hopkins' poem and argue that it is a powerful commentary on the human condition.
The central theme of "The Child Is Father To The Man" is the relationship between childhood and adulthood. The title of the poem is taken from William Wordsworth's famous poem "My Heart Leaps Up," which begins with the lines "My heart leaps up when I behold / A rainbow in the sky." Wordsworth's poem goes on to say that he hopes to maintain his childlike wonder and awe throughout his life. Hopkins' poem, however, takes a different approach to this theme.
Hopkins believes that childhood is not only the source of adulthood but also the driving force behind it. The child's experiences shape the adult, and the adult's experiences, in turn, shape the child. The child and the adult are not separate entities but are instead interconnected and interdependent. This theme is illustrated throughout the poem, but perhaps most powerfully in the line "And I have had to reckon with the reality that / The child I was is father to the man I am."
Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the idea of transformation. Hopkins argues that life is a process of continual transformation, and that the child is the catalyst for this process. The child's experiences and insights lead to the transformation of the adult, who then passes on their transformed self to the next generation. This idea is expressed in the line "Each mortal thing does one thing and the same; / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves--goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, / Crying What I do is me: for that I came."
Hopkins' use of language in "The Child Is Father To The Man" is both complex and beautiful. He employs a variety of poetic devices, including alliteration, assonance, and internal rhyme, to create a musical and rhythmic quality to the poem.
One of the most striking features of the poem's language is its use of compound words. Hopkins frequently strings together multiple words to create new forms of expression, such as "swift fire" and "man-mark." These compound words not only add to the musicality of the poem but also help to convey its themes of transformation and interconnectedness.
Another notable feature of the poem's language is its use of repetition. Hopkins repeats certain words and phrases throughout the poem, such as "child," "father," and "man," to create a sense of unity and continuity. This repetition underscores the poem's central idea that the child and the adult are inseparable.
As mentioned earlier, "The Child Is Father To The Man" is a sonnet, which means it follows a specific rhyme scheme and structure. The poem is divided into two stanzas, each consisting of seven lines. The first stanza introduces the poem's central theme, while the second stanza develops and expands upon it.
The rhyme scheme of the sonnet is also notable. The first stanza follows an ABABCCC rhyme scheme, while the second stanza follows a ABABCDCD rhyme scheme. This variation in rhyme scheme gives the poem a sense of movement and progression, as if it is building towards a conclusion.
"The Child Is Father To The Man" is a complex and multifaceted poem that can be interpreted in a number of ways. However, I believe that at its core, the poem is a commentary on the nature of human identity and the relationship between the individual and the collective.
Hopkins argues that our identities are not fixed or static but are instead continually evolving and transforming. Our experiences as children shape who we become as adults, and our experiences as adults shape the next generation. This idea is encapsulated in the line "The child I was is father to the man I am." Hopkins is suggesting that our past selves are not separate from our present selves but are instead intertwined and interconnected.
Furthermore, Hopkins suggests that our identities are not solely the product of our individual experiences but are also shaped by the collective experiences of humanity. The line "Each mortal thing does one thing and the same" implies that there is a commonality to the human experience, and that we are all connected through our shared experiences of love, loss, joy, and pain.
In conclusion, "The Child Is Father To The Man" is a powerful meditation on the nature of human identity and the relationship between childhood and adulthood. Hopkins' use of language and form creates a musical and rhythmic quality to the poem that underscores its central themes of transformation and interconnectedness. Ultimately, the poem suggests that our identities are not fixed or static but are instead continually evolving and transforming, shaped by our individual and collective experiences.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Child Is Father To The Man: A Masterpiece of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Gerard Manley Hopkins, a renowned English poet, is known for his unique style of poetry that combines religious themes with innovative language and imagery. His poem, "The Child Is Father To The Man," is a masterpiece that explores the idea of how childhood experiences shape a person's identity and character. In this article, we will analyze and explain this classic poem in detail.
The poem begins with the line, "The child is father to the man." This line is a paradoxical statement that seems to contradict itself. How can a child be a father to a man? However, Hopkins uses this paradox to convey a deeper meaning. He suggests that a person's childhood experiences shape their identity and character, and that the child they once were is the father of the man they become.
Hopkins then goes on to describe how childhood experiences shape a person's identity. He writes, "And I could wish my days to be / Bound each to each by natural piety." Here, Hopkins suggests that a person's childhood experiences create a sense of natural piety or reverence for the world around them. This piety is what binds a person's days together and shapes their identity.
Hopkins then describes how childhood experiences can have a lasting impact on a person's character. He writes, "I have learned to look on nature, not as in the hour / Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes / The still, sad music of humanity." Here, Hopkins suggests that as a person grows older, they begin to see the world differently. They no longer see nature as something to be conquered or exploited, but as something to be revered and respected. This change in perspective is a result of the experiences they had as a child.
Hopkins then goes on to describe how childhood experiences can shape a person's creativity. He writes, "The child is father of the man; / And I could wish my days to be / Bound each to each by natural piety." Here, Hopkins suggests that a person's childhood experiences can inspire their creativity and shape their artistic vision. The child they once were is the father of the artist they become.
Hopkins then describes how childhood experiences can shape a person's spirituality. He writes, "Oh, yet we trust that somehow good / Will be the final goal of ill!" Here, Hopkins suggests that a person's childhood experiences can shape their spiritual beliefs and values. They learn to trust in the goodness of the world, even in the face of adversity.
Hopkins then concludes the poem with the line, "So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, / Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn." Here, Hopkins suggests that by reflecting on their childhood experiences, a person can find comfort and solace in the present. They can find glimpses of the child they once were and use those memories to find joy and meaning in their life.
In conclusion, "The Child Is Father To The Man" is a masterpiece of Gerard Manley Hopkins that explores the idea of how childhood experiences shape a person's identity, character, creativity, and spirituality. Hopkins uses paradoxical language and imagery to convey a deeper meaning and to suggest that the child a person once was is the father of the man they become. By reflecting on their childhood experiences, a person can find comfort and solace in the present and use those memories to find joy and meaning in their life. This poem is a testament to the power of childhood experiences and their lasting impact on a person's life.
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