'The May Magnificat' by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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Poems of Gerard Manley HopkinsMay is Mary's month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:Her feasts follow reason,Dated due to season-
Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,Why fasten that upon her,With a feasting in her honour?Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?Is it opportunestAnd flowers finds soonest?Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this otherQuestion: What is Spring?-Growth in every thing-Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;Star-eyed strawberry-breastedThrostle above her nestedCluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;And bird and blossom swellIn sod or sheath or shell.All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathisingWith that world of good,Nature's motherhood.Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mindHow she did in her storedMagnify the Lord.Well but there was more than this:
Spring's universal blissMuch, had much to sayTo offering Mary May.When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-appleAnd thicket and thorp are merryWith silver-surfèd cherryAnd azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakesAnd magic cuckoocallCaps, clears, and clinches all-This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ's birthTo remember and exultationIn God who was her salvation.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The May Magnificat: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Gerard Manley Hopkins is a renowned poet who has left an indelible mark on English literature. His poems are characterized by their complex rhythms, intricate wordplay, and vivid imagery. One of his most famous works is "The May Magnificat," a poem that celebrates the beauty of nature and the glory of God. This literary criticism and interpretation will explore the themes, symbolism, and literary devices used in the poem.
The May Magnificat: Overview
"The May Magnificat" is a sonnet that was written in 1877. The poem takes its name from the opening line, which is a reference to the Magnificat, a canticle from the Gospel of Luke that is traditionally sung at vespers. The poem consists of fourteen lines and follows the rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA CDCDCD. The poem is divided into two parts, with the first eight lines describing the beauty of nature and the last six lines expressing the poet's awe and wonder at the glory of God.
One of the central themes of "The May Magnificat" is the beauty of nature. Hopkins uses vivid imagery to describe the sights and sounds of spring, such as the "blue-bleak embers" of the sky and the "thrush's eggs look little low heavens." The poem celebrates the renewal and rebirth of the natural world that comes with the arrival of spring.
Another theme of the poem is the glory of God. Hopkins was a devout Catholic, and his poetry often reflects his religious beliefs. In "The May Magnificat," Hopkins expresses his awe and wonder at the majesty of God, who is the creator of the natural world. The poem suggests that the beauty of nature is a reflection of God's glory and power.
Hopkins employs several symbols in "The May Magnificat." One of the most prominent is the thrush, which is described as "the holy ghost over the bent / World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings." The thrush is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, which according to Christian doctrine, is the third person of the Trinity. The imagery of the thrush's warm breast and bright wings suggests the nurturing and protective nature of the Holy Spirit.
Another symbol in the poem is the egg, which is used to represent new life and the potential for growth. The line "thrush's eggs look little low heavens" suggests that the eggs are a symbol of the heavens, which according to Christian belief, is the dwelling place of God. The presence of the eggs in the poem reinforces the idea of renewal and rebirth that is central to the theme of nature.
Hopkins employs several literary devices in "The May Magnificat" to create a sense of rhythm and musicality. One of the most notable is the use of alliteration, which is the repetition of initial consonant sounds. Hopkins uses alliteration to create a sense of harmony and flow in the poem. For example, the line "And blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, / Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion" contains several instances of alliteration, including "blue-bleak," "dear," "Fall, gall," and "gold-vermillion."
Another literary device used in the poem is internal rhyme, which is the repetition of sounds within a line of verse. Hopkins uses internal rhyme to create a sense of unity and cohesion in the poem. For example, the line "Selves â€“ goes itself; myself it speaks and spells" contains several instances of internal rhyme, including "selves," "itself," and "myself."
"The May Magnificat" is a poem that celebrates the beauty of nature and the glory of God. The poem suggests that the natural world is a reflection of God's majesty and power, and that the renewal and rebirth of the natural world is a symbol of God's ongoing presence in the world.
The poem is also a meditation on the role of the Holy Spirit in the world. The thrush, which is described as the Holy Ghost, is a symbol of the nurturing and protective nature of God. The presence of the eggs in the poem reinforces the idea of growth and renewal, which is central to the theme of nature.
Ultimately, "The May Magnificat" is a celebration of life and the enduring power of God's love. It is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope and the promise of new beginnings. Hopkins' use of vivid imagery, complex wordplay, and intricate rhythms makes "The May Magnificat" a classic of English literature and a testament to the enduring power of poetry.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The May Magnificat: A Masterpiece of Poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era, is known for his innovative use of language and his ability to capture the beauty of nature in his works. His poem, The May Magnificat, is a perfect example of his unique style and his deep appreciation for the natural world.
The May Magnificat is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem that follows a specific 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 follows a more flexible pattern, usually CDECDE or CDCDCD.
The poem begins with the speaker addressing the Virgin Mary, praising her for her role in bringing forth the Savior. He describes her as the "queen of May," a title that emphasizes her purity and beauty. The speaker then turns his attention to the natural world, describing the beauty of spring and the joy it brings.
Hopkins uses vivid imagery to capture the essence of spring. He describes the "bright hued beetle" and the "blue harebell" as they emerge from the earth, bringing color and life to the world. He also mentions the "lark's jubilee," a reference to the bird's joyful song that fills the air.
The speaker then contrasts the beauty of spring with the darkness and despair of winter. He describes the "cold hard rime" that covers the earth during the winter months, and the "blacksmith" who works tirelessly to keep the fires burning. This contrast between light and dark, life and death, is a common theme in Hopkins' poetry.
The poem then returns to the Virgin Mary, with the speaker asking for her intercession. He asks her to "pray for us now and at the hour of our death," a reference to the Catholic belief in the power of Mary to intercede on behalf of the faithful.
The May Magnificat is a beautiful poem that captures the essence of spring and the joy it brings. Hopkins' use of vivid imagery and his unique style make this poem a masterpiece of poetry. The poem is also a testament to Hopkins' deep faith and his belief in the power of the Virgin Mary to intercede on behalf of the faithful.
Hopkins' use of language is particularly noteworthy in this poem. He uses alliteration, the repetition of consonant sounds, to create a musical quality to the poem. For example, in the first line, he writes "May Magnificat," using the repetition of the "m" sound to create a sense of rhythm and melody. He also uses internal rhyme, the repetition of sounds within a line, to create a sense of unity and coherence in the poem.
The May Magnificat is also notable for its use of religious imagery. Hopkins was a Jesuit priest, and his poetry often reflects his deep faith. In this poem, he uses the image of the Virgin Mary as a symbol of hope and salvation. He also uses the natural world as a reflection of God's glory and power.
The poem's structure is also significant. The sonnet form is a traditional form of poetry that has been used for centuries. Hopkins' use of the Petrarchan sonnet form is particularly effective, as it allows him to explore multiple themes and ideas within a single poem. The octave sets up the contrast between spring and winter, while the sestet returns to the theme of the Virgin Mary and her role in bringing forth the Savior.
In conclusion, The May Magnificat is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the beauty of spring and the power of faith. Hopkins' use of language, imagery, and structure make this poem a testament to his skill as a poet and his deep appreciation for the natural world. The poem is a reminder of the power of poetry to inspire and uplift, and a testament to the enduring legacy of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
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