'May Magnificat' by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Poems of Gerard Manley HopkinsMay is Mary's month, and IMuse 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 brighterThan 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 thinForms and warms the life within;And bird and blossom swellIn sod or sheath or shell.All things rising, all things sizingMary sees, sympathisingWith that world of good,Nature's motherhood.Their magnifying of each its kindWith 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-dappleBloom lights the orchard-appleAnd thicket and thorp are merryWith silver-surfed cherryAnd azuring-over greybell makesWood banks and brakes wash wet like lakesAnd magic cuckoocallCaps, clears, and clinches all-This ecstasy all through mothering earthTells Mary her mirth till Christ's birthTo remember and exultationIn God who was her salvation.

Editor 1 Interpretation

May Magnificat by Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Masterpiece of Religious Poetry

May Magnificat is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem written by the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. This poem is a tribute to the Virgin Mary and her role in the story of the Nativity. It is a masterpiece of religious poetry that explores the themes of faith, love, and the beauty of nature.

Hopkins was a Jesuit priest and a writer who is known for his innovative and experimental style of poetry. He invented a new form of poetry called "sprung rhythm," which is characterized by its irregular meter and emphasis on stressed syllables. In May Magnificat, Hopkins uses this technique to great effect, creating a vibrant and musical poem that captures the essence of the Virgin Mary's role in the Nativity.

The poem begins with the lines:

May is Mary's month, and I Muse at that and wonder why: Her feasts follow reason, Dated due to season—

These lines set the tone for the rest of the poem, as Hopkins muses on the significance of May as the month of Mary. He wonders why this is so, and concludes that it is because Mary's feasts are "dated due to season." In other words, Mary's feasts are celebrated at a certain time of year because they are connected to the natural world and the rhythms of the seasons.

Hopkins goes on to describe the beauty of May and its connection to Mary, saying:

Her blue garments unroll And her blue footwear, And all her nodes unfold Fair flushes of flower;

The use of "blue" to describe Mary's garments and footwear is significant because blue was traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary. The "nodes" that Hopkins describes are the nodes of the rosary, a set of prayers that Catholics use to honor Mary. The "fair flushes of flower" represent the beauty of nature that is associated with Mary and her role as the mother of Christ.

Hopkins continues to describe the beauty of nature and its connection to Mary, saying:

What is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy, Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning, Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy, Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

In these lines, Hopkins reflects on the joy and beauty of nature and its connection to the story of the Nativity. He references the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve lived in a state of innocence and harmony with nature before sin entered the world. He urges the reader to "have, get, before it cloy" the beauty of nature and the innocence of childhood, before it is clouded by sin.

The final lines of the poem are a tribute to Mary and her role in the story of the Nativity:

And when he comes to turn The key and open up Heaven's gate, I will not him to hinder Or enter in the way.

These lines reflect Hopkins' deep faith and his belief in the power of Mary to intercede on behalf of the faithful. He trusts that Mary will be there to open the gates of heaven and welcome him into the kingdom of God.

Overall, May Magnificat is a beautiful and powerful poem that explores the themes of faith, love, and the beauty of nature. Hopkins' use of sprung rhythm creates a musical and vibrant poem that captures the essence of the Virgin Mary's role in the story of the Nativity. Through his words, Hopkins encourages the reader to reflect on the beauty of nature and the role that Mary plays in our faith. This poem is truly a masterpiece of religious poetry and a testament to Hopkins' skill as a writer.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era, and his works continue to inspire and captivate readers to this day. One of his most famous poems is the May Magnificat, a stunning ode to the beauty of nature and the glory of God. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, language, and structure of this classic poem, and uncover the deeper meanings that lie beneath its surface.

The May Magnificat is a sonnet, a form of poetry that consists of 14 lines and a strict rhyme scheme. Hopkins, however, takes some liberties with the traditional sonnet form, using a unique rhyme scheme and meter that give the poem a distinctive rhythm and musicality. The poem is divided into two stanzas, with the first eight lines describing the beauty of nature in the month of May, and the final six lines praising God for his creation.

The poem begins with a vivid description of the natural world in springtime. Hopkins uses rich, sensory language to paint a picture of the lush, vibrant landscape that surrounds him. He writes of "the heart-stirring" beauty of the "freshness and warmth" of May, and describes the "bright wings" of birds and the "sweet buds" of flowers. The imagery is so vivid that we can almost feel the warmth of the sun on our skin and smell the fragrant blossoms in the air.

Hopkins' language is also notable for its use of alliteration and other sound devices. He employs repeated sounds and rhythms to create a sense of harmony and musicality in the poem. For example, in the first line, he writes of "May-mornings" and "magnificence," using the repeated "m" sound to create a sense of continuity and flow. Throughout the poem, he uses similar techniques to create a sense of unity and coherence.

As the poem progresses, Hopkins shifts his focus from the natural world to the divine. He begins to praise God for his creation, using religious language and imagery to convey his awe and reverence. He writes of the "great God" who "made all things well," and describes the "glory" and "beauty" of his creation. The final lines of the poem are a prayer of thanksgiving and praise, as Hopkins acknowledges the greatness of God and his infinite power and wisdom.

One of the key themes of the May Magnificat is the relationship between nature and the divine. Hopkins sees the natural world as a reflection of God's glory and power, and he uses the beauty of nature to inspire his own sense of wonder and awe. He sees God's hand in every aspect of the natural world, from the "bright wings" of birds to the "sweet buds" of flowers. For Hopkins, nature is not just a collection of objects to be admired, but a living, breathing expression of God's love and creativity.

Another important theme of the poem is the idea of renewal and rebirth. Hopkins writes of the "freshness and warmth" of May, and describes the "sweet buds" of flowers as they burst forth from the earth. This imagery suggests a sense of new life and growth, as the world emerges from the darkness of winter and begins to bloom once again. Hopkins sees this as a metaphor for the spiritual renewal that comes with faith in God. Just as the natural world is reborn each spring, so too can our souls be reborn through our connection to the divine.

The May Magnificat is also notable for its use of religious language and imagery. Hopkins was a devout Catholic, and his faith is evident throughout the poem. He uses words like "glory," "magnificence," and "praise" to describe God's creation, and he employs religious metaphors like "the great God" and "the Holy Ghost" to convey his sense of awe and reverence. This religious language gives the poem a sense of grandeur and majesty, and underscores the importance of faith in Hopkins' worldview.

Finally, the May Magnificat is a testament to the power of language and poetry. Hopkins' use of rich, sensory language and musical rhythms creates a sense of beauty and harmony that is both uplifting and inspiring. His words evoke the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world, and his religious imagery conveys a sense of wonder and awe. Through his poetry, Hopkins is able to capture the essence of the divine and convey it to his readers in a way that is both accessible and profound.

In conclusion, the May Magnificat is a masterpiece of Victorian poetry, and a testament to the power of language and faith. Through his vivid imagery, rich language, and religious themes, Hopkins is able to capture the beauty and majesty of the natural world, and convey his sense of awe and wonder at the divine. The poem is a celebration of renewal, rebirth, and the infinite power of God, and a reminder of the importance of faith in our lives. As we read and reflect on this classic work, we are reminded of the enduring power of poetry to inspire, uplift, and transform our souls.

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