'The Candle Indoors' by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Some candle clear burns somewhere I come by.
I muse at how its being puts blissful back
With yellowy moisture mild night's blear-all black,
Or to-fro tender trambeams truckle at the eye.
By that window what task what fingers ply,
I plod wondering, a-wanting, just for lack
Of answer the eagerer a-wanting Jessy or Jack
There God to aggrándise, God to glorify.—

Come you indoors, come home; your fading fire
Mend first and vital candle in close heart's vault:
You there are master, do your own desire;
What hinders? Are you beam-blind, yet to a fault
In a neighbour deft-handed? Are you that liar
And, cast by conscience out, spendsavour salt?

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Candle Indoors: A Critical Analysis

Gerard Manley Hopkins was a renowned poet of the Victorian era, known for his innovative use of language and imagery in his works. The Candle Indoors is one of his most celebrated poems, written in 1875. The poem captures the essence of the beauty and warmth of a candle burning indoors on a winter night. In this paper, we will critically analyze and interpret The Candle Indoors, exploring its themes, language, imagery, and its relevance in contemporary times.


The Candle Indoors revolves around the theme of comfort and warmth in the midst of darkness and cold. The poem uses the imagery of a candle burning indoors to symbolize a source of inner peace and comfort. Hopkins compares the flame of the candle to a beacon, a guiding light that provides hope and comfort to those who are lost in the darkness of the world.

Hopkins also touches on the theme of home and family in the poem. The candle burning in the window represents the home and the warmth of the family, which provides a sense of security and comfort to the individual. The image of the candle burning in the window also symbolizes the welcoming nature of the family, inviting outsiders to come in and share their warmth and comfort.


Hopkins' use of language in The Candle Indoors is intricate and detailed. The poem is written in a lyrical style, with a combination of internal rhymes, alliteration, and assonance. The use of these literary devices enhances the musicality of the poem and makes it more memorable.

Hopkins' use of metaphors and personification in the poem also adds depth and meaning to the imagery. For example, he describes the flame of the candle as a "sparkling star," which transforms the simple act of lighting a candle into something magical and otherworldly. The personification of the candle flame as "tameless" and "unbeholden" adds to the sense of mystery and wonder.


The Candle Indoors is rich in imagery, creating a vivid picture of a candle burning indoors on a winter night. Hopkins' use of sensory imagery engages the reader's senses and transports them to the scene described in the poem. The readers can smell the "scent of the elder and the sycamore," feel the warmth of the flame, and hear the "gentle stir" of the flame as it dances in the wind.

The poem also uses visual imagery to create a vivid picture of the candle burning in the window. The image of the candle flame shining "like a silver carving" against the darkness outside creates a striking contrast between the warmth of the home and the coldness of the outside world. The image of the flame flickering and dancing in the wind also adds to the sense of movement and life in the poem.


The Candle Indoors is a poem that resonates with readers on multiple levels. On a literal level, the poem describes the warmth and comfort of a candle burning indoors on a winter night. However, the poem also has a deeper meaning, symbolizing the need for inner peace and comfort in a world that can be harsh and unforgiving.

The poem's emphasis on home and family also speaks to the importance of community and connection in our lives. The image of the candle burning in the window represents the welcoming nature of the family, inviting outsiders to come in and share their warmth and comfort. In a world that can often feel isolating and lonely, the poem reminds us of the importance of creating a sense of home and connection with others.

The Candle Indoors also has a spiritual dimension, with the candle flame symbolizing the divine presence and inner light within each of us. The poem encourages us to cultivate this inner light and to use it to guide us through the darkness of the world.


The themes and imagery of The Candle Indoors are still relevant in contemporary times. In an age of technology and constant distraction, the poem reminds us of the importance of slowing down and finding comfort and peace in the simple things in life. The poem also speaks to the need for connection and community in our lives, as we navigate the challenges of the modern world.

In conclusion, The Candle Indoors is a beautiful and moving poem that captures the essence of the warmth and comfort of a candle burning indoors on a winter night. The poem's themes, language, and imagery create a vivid picture of the scene described in the poem and speak to the importance of inner peace, community, and connection in our lives. The poem's relevance in contemporary times serves as a reminder of the enduring power of poetry to capture the beauty and complexity of the human experience.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Candle Indoors: A Masterpiece of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era. His works are known for their complex language, innovative use of rhythm, and vivid imagery. Among his many poems, The Candle Indoors stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of human existence and the power of faith.

The poem is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem with a strict rhyme scheme and meter. Hopkins uses the Petrarchan sonnet form, which consists of an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines). The rhyme scheme of the octave is ABBAABBA, while the sestet has a more flexible rhyme scheme, usually CDECDE or CDCDCD. The Candle Indoors follows this structure, with a slight variation in the sestet rhyme scheme (CDECED).

The Candle Indoors is a deeply spiritual poem that explores the relationship between the human soul and God. The poem begins with a description of a candle burning indoors, surrounded by darkness. The candle represents the human soul, which is fragile and vulnerable, but also capable of shining brightly in the darkness. The darkness represents the world, which is full of sin and suffering.

Hopkins uses vivid imagery to describe the candle and its surroundings. He writes, "The flame's our heart in a jar, and the jar stands / Amid the silent surge of stealing sand, / With the blue wave jarred not, that rests on strands." The jar represents the body, which contains the soul and protects it from the outside world. The sand represents time, which is constantly slipping away, and the blue wave represents the eternal nature of God.

The second quatrain of the poem shifts the focus to the outside world. Hopkins writes, "So time with us, and the world's rude / People; and scenes of passion, and strains of woe." Here, he acknowledges the harsh realities of life, including the cruelty of other people and the pain and suffering that we all experience. However, he also suggests that these things are temporary and fleeting, like the sand that surrounds the candle.

The third quatrain of the poem is where Hopkins introduces the theme of faith. He writes, "These shall pass, and the best will stand and stay, / Strength handfasted with strength, till the night's decay." Here, he suggests that faith is the only thing that can endure in the face of the world's challenges. He uses the metaphor of two hands clasping together to represent the strength of faith, which can withstand even the darkest of nights.

The final sestet of the poem is where Hopkins brings all of these themes together. He writes, "When the fight begins within himself, / A man's worth something. God stoops o'er his head, / Satan looks up between his feet—both tug— / He's left, himself, i' the middle; the soul's unrest / Betwixt love and despair." Here, he suggests that the true battle is not between good and evil in the world, but within the human soul. He portrays God and Satan as opposing forces that are constantly pulling at the soul, but ultimately it is up to the individual to choose between love and despair.

The Candle Indoors is a powerful poem that speaks to the human experience in a profound way. It acknowledges the darkness and pain of the world, but also suggests that there is hope and light to be found in faith. Hopkins' use of vivid imagery and complex language creates a sense of depth and richness that is rare in poetry. The poem is a testament to his skill as a poet and his deep understanding of the human soul.

In conclusion, The Candle Indoors is a masterpiece of Victorian poetry that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes of faith, hope, and the human struggle are timeless and universal. Hopkins' use of language and imagery is masterful, and the poem is a testament to his skill as a poet. The Candle Indoors is a must-read for anyone interested in poetry, spirituality, or the human experience.

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