'The Handsome Heart' by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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at a Gracious Answer
'But tell me, child, your choice; what shall I buy
You?'—'Father, what you buy me I like best.'
With the sweetest air that said, still plied and pressed,
He swung to his first poised purport of reply.
What the heart is! which, like carriers let fly—
Doff darkness, homing nature knows the rest—
To its own fine function, wild and self-instressed,
Falls light as ten years long taught how to and why.
Mannerly-hearted! more than handsome face—
Beauty's bearing or muse of mounting vein,
All, in this case, bathed in high hallowing grace...
Of heaven what boon to buy you, boy, or gain
Not granted?—Only ... O on that path you pace
Run all your race, O brace sterner that strain!
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Handsome Heart: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Gerard Manley Hopkins is a renowned poet who is known for his unique style of writing and his use of complex linguistic techniques. His poem, "The Handsome Heart," is one of his notable works that has been analyzed and interpreted by various scholars over the years. This literary criticism aims to provide a detailed analysis and interpretation of this poem, highlighting its themes, structures, and significance in Hopkins' literary works.
Overview of the Poem
"The Handsome Heart" is a sonnet written in the form of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, which consists of 14 lines with a specific rhyme scheme. The poem is divided into two parts, an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines), with a volta or turn in the ninth line. The rhyme scheme is ABBA ABBA CDC DCD, which follows the traditional structure of a Petrarchan sonnet.
The poem is written in iambic pentameter, which is a metric pattern consisting of five feet, each foot containing an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. This gives the poem a rhythmic quality that makes it easy to read and follow.
Analysis of the Poem
The theme of "The Handsome Heart" revolves around the idea of beauty and the power of the heart to create and appreciate it. The poem is essentially a celebration of the human heart, which is seen as a source of vitality and creativity. The speaker emphasizes the importance of the heart in bringing beauty into the world and acknowledges its role in shaping our lives.
The structure of the poem is significant in understanding its meaning and significance. The Petrarchan sonnet form is well-suited for the poem's theme, as it provides a structured framework that allows the poet to explore the various aspects of the heart's beauty. The octave presents the idea of the heart as a source of beauty, while the sestet explores the implications of this idea.
The volta or turn in the ninth line is a crucial moment in the poem, as it marks a shift in tone and perspective. The first eight lines present the heart as a beautiful object, while the last six lines explore its role in creating beauty. This turn highlights the idea that the heart is not just a beautiful object but a source of beauty that can transform the world.
Language and Style
Hopkins' use of language in "The Handsome Heart" is one of the poem's most striking features. The poem is full of complex linguistic techniques, such as alliteration, assonance, and consonance. These techniques create a musical quality that enhances the poem's emotional impact and makes it more memorable.
For example, the line "to be but lovely and be nothing more" uses alliteration and assonance to create a musical quality that emphasizes the idea of beauty. The repetition of the "l" sound in "lovely" and "nothing" creates a musical effect that draws attention to the beauty of the heart.
Hopkins' use of imagery is also noteworthy in "The Handsome Heart." The heart is depicted as a "beauty," "jewel," and "gem," emphasizing its value and importance. The use of these images creates a vivid picture of the heart as a beautiful object and highlights its significance to the speaker.
"The Handsome Heart" can be interpreted in several ways, depending on the reader's perspective. One possible interpretation is that the poem is a celebration of the heart's capacity for beauty and creativity. The heart is seen as a source of vitality that can transform the world through its beauty and goodness.
Another interpretation is that the poem is an expression of Hopkins' religious beliefs. The heart is often associated with the soul in Christian theology, and Hopkins may be using the image of the heart to express his faith in God. The poem's language and imagery suggest a spiritual dimension that goes beyond the physical world, emphasizing the importance of the soul in shaping our lives.
Finally, the poem can be interpreted as a commentary on the role of beauty in society. The speaker emphasizes the importance of beauty in our lives, and suggests that we should strive to create and appreciate it. In a world that often values utility and efficiency over beauty and creativity, the poem is a reminder of the importance of art and aesthetics in our lives.
In conclusion, "The Handsome Heart" is a complex and multifaceted poem that explores the idea of beauty and the importance of the heart in creating and appreciating it. Hopkins' use of language and structure creates a powerful emotional impact that highlights the significance of the heart in our lives. The poem's themes and imagery can be interpreted in several ways, depending on the reader's perspective, making it a timeless work that continues to resonate with readers today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Handsome Heart: A Masterpiece of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Gerard Manley Hopkins, a renowned English poet, is known for his unique style of writing that combines religious themes with innovative language and imagery. One of his most celebrated works is the poem "The Handsome Heart," which explores the concept of beauty and its relationship with the human heart. In this article, we will delve into the poem's meaning, structure, and language, and analyze how Hopkins uses these elements to convey his message.
The poem consists of three stanzas, each with four lines, and follows a strict rhyme scheme of ABAB. The title itself, "The Handsome Heart," is a paradoxical phrase that immediately captures the reader's attention. The word "handsome" typically refers to physical appearance, while "heart" is an abstract concept associated with emotions and feelings. By combining these two words, Hopkins creates a sense of intrigue and curiosity, inviting the reader to explore the poem's meaning.
The first stanza begins with the line, "The heart whose doctrine is all this," which sets the tone for the rest of the poem. Hopkins personifies the heart, giving it a voice and agency, and suggests that it has its own set of beliefs and teachings. The heart, in this context, represents the innermost self, the core of a person's being, and the source of their beauty. Hopkins argues that true beauty comes from within, from the heart's doctrine, rather than from external appearances.
The second line of the first stanza, "Emptiness we are," is a stark contrast to the first line's assertion of the heart's importance. Hopkins suggests that without the heart's doctrine, we are empty, devoid of true beauty. The third line, "Inside that windy palace," is a metaphor for the human body, which is compared to a palace. The word "windy" suggests that the body is hollow, lacking substance, and that the heart's doctrine is what gives it meaning and purpose.
The second stanza continues this theme, with the line, "We know where beauty lives." Hopkins asserts that true beauty is not found in external objects, but rather in the heart's doctrine. The heart, in this context, is a source of knowledge, a guide to finding true beauty. The third line, "And sweetest wine the cellar gives," is a metaphor for the heart's teachings, which are compared to wine. Wine is a symbol of pleasure and enjoyment, and Hopkins suggests that the heart's doctrine brings joy and fulfillment to life.
The third stanza concludes the poem, with the line, "We know where virtue lies." Hopkins argues that the heart's doctrine is not only a source of beauty but also of virtue. Virtue, in this context, refers to moral excellence, goodness, and righteousness. The heart's teachings, according to Hopkins, are a guide to living a virtuous life, one that is in harmony with the divine.
The language of the poem is rich and complex, with Hopkins using a variety of literary devices to convey his message. The most prominent of these is personification, where he gives the heart a voice and agency, making it a central character in the poem. Hopkins also uses metaphors, such as the "windy palace" and "sweetest wine," to create vivid images that help the reader understand his message.
The rhyme scheme of the poem is also significant, with Hopkins using a strict ABAB pattern to create a sense of order and structure. This structure reflects the poem's message, which is about finding beauty and virtue through the heart's doctrine. The strict rhyme scheme suggests that there is a method to this search, a set of rules and teachings that must be followed to find true beauty and virtue.
In conclusion, "The Handsome Heart" is a masterpiece of Gerard Manley Hopkins, a poem that explores the concept of beauty and its relationship with the human heart. Hopkins argues that true beauty and virtue come from within, from the heart's doctrine, rather than from external appearances. The language and structure of the poem are rich and complex, with Hopkins using a variety of literary devices to convey his message. Overall, "The Handsome Heart" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that continues to resonate with readers today.
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