'The Bugler's First Communion' by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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A buglar boy from barrack (it is over the hill
There)—boy bugler, born, he tells me, of Irish
Mother to an English sire (he
Shares their best gifts surely, fall how things will),
This very very day came down to us after a boon he on
My late being there begged of me, overflowing
Boon in my bestowing,
Came, I say, this day to it—to a First Communion.
Here he knelt then ín regimental red.
Forth Christ from cupboard fetched, how fain I of feet
To his youngster take his treat!
Low-latched in leaf-light housel his too huge godhead.
There! and your sweetest sendings, ah divine,
By it, heavens, befall him! as a heart Christ's darling, dauntless;
Tongue true, vaunt- and tauntless;
Breathing bloom of a chastity in mansex fine.
Frowning and forefending angel-warder
Squander the hell-rook ranks sally to molest him;
March, kind comrade, abreast him;
Dress his days to a dexterous and starlight order.
How it dóes my heart good, visiting at that bleak hill,
When limber liquid youth, that to all I teach
Yields tender as a pushed peach,
Hies headstrong to its wellbeing of a self-wise self-will!
Then though I should tread tufts of consolation
Dáys áfter, só I in a sort deserve to
And do serve God to serve to
Just such slips of soldiery Christ's royal ration.
Nothing élse is like it, no, not all so strains
Us: fresh youth fretted in a bloomfall all portending
That sweet's sweeter ending;
Realm both Christ is heir to and thére réigns.
O now well work that sealing sacred ointment!
O for now charms, arms, what bans off bad
And locks love ever in a lad!
Let mé though see no more of him, and not disappointment
Those sweet hopes quell whose least me quickenings lift,
In scarlet or somewhere of some day seeing
That brow and bead of being,
An our day's God's own Galahad. Though this child's drift
Seems by a divíne doom chánnelled, nor do I cry
Disaster there; but may he not rankle and roam
In backwheels though bound home?—
That left to the Lord of the Eucharist, I here lie by;
Recorded only, I have put my lips on pleas
Would brandle adamantine heaven with ride and jar, did
Prayer go disregarded:
Forward-like, but however, and like favourable heaven heard these.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Bugler's First Communion: An Analysis of Hopkins' Masterpiece
Gerard Manley Hopkins is widely regarded as one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era. His unique style, characterized by his use of alliteration, internal rhyme, and sprung rhythm, has made his works stand the test of time. One of his most celebrated poems is "The Bugler's First Communion," a piece that showcases Hopkins' mastery of language and his ability to convey deep religious themes.
The Theme of Faith
At the heart of "The Bugler's First Communion" is the theme of faith. The poem explores the religious journey of the bugler, who is preparing for his first communion. Throughout the piece, Hopkins uses vivid imagery to depict the significance of this momentous occasion. For instance, he describes the bugler's "pure" heart and his desire to be "washed by the Lamb's clean blood." This imagery serves to highlight the purity and holiness associated with the sacrament of communion.
Hopkins also emphasizes the importance of receiving communion in a state of grace. He writes, "Be holy all who see and do, / The Sanctus bells are singing." These lines serve as a reminder that communion is a sacred act that requires a pure heart and a commitment to living a holy life. The use of the Sanctus bells in the poem further underscores the idea that communion is a moment of great significance, one that should be treated with the utmost reverence.
The Power of Language
Another key aspect of "The Bugler's First Communion" is the power of language. Hopkins' use of alliteration and internal rhyme, coupled with his unique sprung rhythm, creates a musical quality to the poem, which serves to emphasize the importance of the words being spoken. For instance, in the line "And Christ in every mouth," the repetition of the "m" sound creates a sense of harmony and unity, while also highlighting the central role of Christ in the communion ceremony.
Moreover, Hopkins' use of imagery and metaphors adds depth and complexity to the poem. For instance, he compares the bugler's heart to an "unstained host," a reference to the communion wafer that is believed to be the body of Christ. This metaphor serves to further emphasize the purity and holiness associated with the sacrament of communion.
The Spiritual Journey
"The Bugler's First Communion" also explores the spiritual journey of the bugler. Throughout the poem, Hopkins depicts the bugler as a figure who is seeking a deeper connection with God. He writes, "He had cried out on his pride and sin / To be washed and welcom'd in." This line serves to highlight the bugler's desire for spiritual cleansing and his willingness to humble himself before God.
Hopkins also emphasizes the transformative power of the communion ceremony. He writes, "And Christ in every mouth / And in some heart as yet sin free." These lines suggest that the act of receiving communion has the power to transform individuals and make them more Christ-like. This idea is further reinforced by the imagery of the "pure" heart and the desire to be "washed by the Lamb's clean blood."
In conclusion, "The Bugler's First Communion" is a masterful work of poetry that explores the themes of faith, language, and spirituality. Hopkins' use of vivid imagery, powerful metaphors, and musical language creates a profound sense of reverence that underscores the importance of the communion ceremony. The poem serves as a reminder of the transformative power of the sacrament and the importance of maintaining a pure heart and a commitment to living a holy life. As such, it continues to be a timeless work that speaks to the spiritual journey of individuals across generations.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Bugler's First Communion: A Masterpiece of Religious Poetry
Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era, is known for his innovative use of language and his deep religious faith. His poem, The Bugler's First Communion, is a perfect example of his unique style and his devotion to God. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, language, and structure of this classic poem.
The Bugler's First Communion is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem with a strict rhyme scheme. 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. This form allows Hopkins to explore his themes in a structured and concise way, while also giving him the freedom to experiment with language and imagery.
The poem tells the story of a bugler who is about to receive his first communion. The bugler is a young boy, and Hopkins describes him as "a little lad" (line 1). The bugler is nervous and excited about the upcoming ceremony, and Hopkins captures his emotions in vivid detail. The first two lines of the poem set the scene:
A novice, trembling, in his own conceit With wonder, awe, and fear, before the altar.
These lines convey the bugler's sense of awe and fear as he approaches the altar. He is a "novice," someone who is new to the ceremony and unsure of what to expect. He is "trembling" with excitement and nervousness, and he is in "wonder" at the beauty and solemnity of the occasion.
Hopkins uses a variety of poetic techniques to convey the bugler's emotions. One of the most striking is his use of alliteration, the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. In the first line, Hopkins uses the alliterative phrase "novice, trembling," which emphasizes the bugler's youth and inexperience. In the second line, he uses the alliterative phrase "wonder, awe, and fear," which creates a sense of awe and reverence.
The octave of the sonnet focuses on the bugler's emotions and his sense of wonder and awe. The sestet, however, shifts the focus to the ceremony itself and its significance. Hopkins uses a series of metaphors and images to convey the spiritual meaning of the communion. In the first two lines of the sestet, he describes the ceremony as a "feast of love" and a "banquet of the King":
A feast of love, a banquet of the King; And how shall hearts not feel nor tongues not sing?
These lines convey the idea that the communion is a celebration of God's love for humanity. It is a "feast" and a "banquet," a time of joy and abundance. The bugler, who was previously trembling with fear and awe, is now filled with joy and gratitude.
Hopkins uses a series of metaphors and images to convey the spiritual significance of the communion. In the third line of the sestet, he describes the bread and wine of the communion as "heavenly food":
O let him, though he tremble, feed on thee; And let him taste that heavenly food and see.
This metaphor emphasizes the idea that the communion is a spiritual nourishment, a way of feeding the soul. The bugler, who was previously trembling with fear and awe, is now filled with joy and gratitude.
In the final two lines of the poem, Hopkins returns to the bugler's emotions and his sense of wonder and awe. He describes the bugler as "rapt" and "entranced," caught up in the beauty and mystery of the ceremony:
Rapt, entranced, he sees the vision shine, And hears, as angels hear, the Word divine.
These lines convey the idea that the bugler is transported to a higher plane of existence, where he can see and hear things that are beyond the ordinary. He is "rapt" and "entranced," caught up in the beauty and mystery of the ceremony. He sees a "vision" and hears the "Word divine," suggesting that he has had a mystical experience.
In conclusion, The Bugler's First Communion is a masterpiece of religious poetry. Hopkins uses a variety of poetic techniques to convey the bugler's emotions and the spiritual significance of the communion. His use of alliteration, metaphor, and imagery creates a vivid and powerful portrait of a young boy's first encounter with the divine. The poem is a testament to Hopkins' deep religious faith and his innovative use of language. It is a classic of Victorian poetry and a timeless meditation on the mysteries of faith.
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