'Harry Ploughman' by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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Poems of Gerard Manley HopkinsHard as hurdle arms, with a broth of goldish flue
Breathed round; the rack of ribs; the scooped flank; lank
Rope-over thigh; knee-nave; and barrelled shank-Head and foot, shoulder and shank-
By a grey eye's heed steered well, one crew, fall to;
Stand at stress. Each limb's barrowy brawn, his thew
That onewhere curded, onewhere sucked or sank-Soared or sank-,
Though as a beechbole firm, finds his, as at a roll-call, rank
And features, in flesh, what deed he each must do-His sinew-service where do.He leans to it, Harry bends, look. Back, elbow, and liquid waist
In him, all quail to the wallowing o' the plough: 's cheek crimsons; curls
Wag or crossbridle, in a wind lifted, windlaced-See his wind- lilylocks -laced;
Churlsgrace, too, child of Amansstrength, how it hangs or hurls
Them-broad in bluff hide his frowning feet lashed! raced
With, along them, cragiron under and cold furls-With-a-fountain's shining-shot furls.
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Deep Dive into Gerard Manley Hopkins' Harry Ploughman
As a poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins is known for his innovative use of language and imagery, his religious themes, and his exploration of nature. His poem, Harry Ploughman, is no exception. In this poem, Hopkins tells the story of a farmer named Harry and his life on the land. But beyond the surface level, Harry Ploughman is a complex poem that explores themes of labor, spirituality, and the cycles of life and death. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll take a deep dive into Hopkins' Harry Ploughman and explore its many layers.
Form and Structure
Before we dive into the themes of Harry Ploughman, let's take a moment to look at the poem's form and structure. Harry Ploughman is a sonnet, a traditional form of poetry that consists of 14 lines and a specific rhyme scheme. However, Hopkins takes some liberties with the sonnet form in this poem. Rather than following the traditional rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, Hopkins uses a modified version of the form that he developed himself. The rhyme scheme of Harry Ploughman is ABABCDCDEFEFGG.
Additionally, Hopkins uses a variety of techniques to give the poem a musical quality. He employs internal rhyme, consonance, and alliteration to create a sense of rhythm and melody. For example, take a look at the opening lines of the poem:
Leaned against the gate He gazed about him round Through low-hung, dun, drear, dripping skies And muttering, 'Well, I s'pose I mun be goin','
Here, Hopkins uses internal rhyme (gate and about) and consonance (leaned and gazed) to create a sense of flow and musicality. The repetition of the "d" sound in "dun," "drear," and "dripping" also adds to the poem's musical quality.
Labor and Spirituality
One of the central themes of Harry Ploughman is the connection between labor and spirituality. The poem begins with Harry leaning against a gate, gazing out over the land. He is a ploughman, a man who works the land and tills the soil. But as he looks out over the fields, his thoughts turn to spiritual matters:
And muttering, 'Well, I s'pose I mun be goin', For I've seed the thing as men desarve When they arena lookin' fur it, nor thinkin' it, nor nothin'.
Harry's musings here suggest that he is a man who is not only connected to the land but also to something greater than himself. He sees a spiritual dimension to his work, and he believes that the rewards of labor go beyond the material. This idea is reinforced later in the poem when Harry speaks of the "good of the land" and how he has "got it up and got it away."
Hopkins is not the only poet to explore the connection between labor and spirituality. William Wordsworth, for example, often portrayed the joys of physical labor in his poetry. However, Hopkins takes this idea a step further by suggesting that labor can be a means of accessing the divine. Harry's connection to the land and his belief in the spiritual rewards of labor elevate his work from mere drudgery to a form of worship.
Cycles of Life and Death
Another important theme in Harry Ploughman is the idea of the cycles of life and death. This theme is introduced early in the poem when Harry muses on the "furrows" he has made in the land. He sees these furrows as a symbol of the cycles of life and death:
And the furrows, they's a wonder for to see; And the molehills and such-like, and the birds. The lark too--he's a gester, he is, And by rights he shouldn't be nigh us If it wasn't for the good of the land.
Here, Harry sees the furrows as a symbol of the earth's fertility. The molehills and birds are also part of this cycle of life and death. The lark, in particular, is significant. Harry notes that the lark "shouldn't be nigh us" if it weren't for the "good of the land." This suggests that the lark is a symbol of the natural world's willingness to work with humans to create something greater than either could accomplish alone.
Later in the poem, Harry speaks of the "handed on" work of his forefathers. He sees his work as an extension of theirs, and he takes pride in the continuation of this cycle of life and death:
And there's my father's work, and his father's, And the old horse's work, and the women's, And mine, and young Tom's that's home from the war.
Here, the idea of a cyclical nature of life is even more apparent. Harry's work is not just his own--it is a continuation of the work of his forefathers and will be carried on by future generations.
Harry Ploughman is a complex poem that explores themes of labor, spirituality, and the cycles of life and death. Hopkins uses his innovative language and imagery to create a world that is both concrete and spiritual. Harry is a ploughman, a man who works the land, but he is also a spiritual seeker who sees the rewards of labor as going beyond the material. Hopkins uses the modified sonnet form to create a musical quality in the poem, and he employs a variety of techniques to create a sense of rhythm and melody. Ultimately, Harry Ploughman is a celebration of the human connection to the land and to something greater than ourselves.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era. His works are known for their unique style, which is characterized by the use of complex language, innovative syntax, and vivid imagery. One of his most famous poems is "Harry Ploughman," which was written in 1877. This poem is a masterpiece of Victorian poetry, and it is a perfect example of Hopkins' unique style. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem "Harry Ploughman" in detail.
The poem "Harry Ploughman" is a sonnet, which is a fourteen-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme of this poem is ABABCDCDEFEFGG. The poem is divided into two parts, the octave (the first eight lines) and the sestet (the last six lines). The poem is written in iambic pentameter, which means that each line has ten syllables, and the stress falls on every other syllable. This gives the poem a rhythmic and musical quality.
The poem is about a ploughman named Harry, who is working in the fields. The poem describes Harry's physical appearance, his work, and his relationship with nature. The poem begins with the line "Harry Ploughman, whose stout arms." This line immediately introduces us to the main character of the poem, Harry. The word "stout" suggests that Harry is a strong and sturdy man. The use of the word "arms" emphasizes Harry's physical strength and his ability to work hard.
The next few lines describe Harry's work in the fields. The poem says that Harry "turns the long furrow with a ploughshare." This line suggests that Harry is a skilled worker who knows how to use a ploughshare. The use of the word "long" emphasizes the hard work that Harry has to do. The poem also says that Harry "sings to the horses." This line suggests that Harry has a close relationship with the animals he works with. The use of the word "sings" emphasizes the joy that Harry finds in his work.
The poem then describes Harry's physical appearance in more detail. The poem says that Harry has "a face like a benediction." This line suggests that Harry has a kind and gentle face. The use of the word "benediction" emphasizes Harry's goodness and his connection to God. The poem also says that Harry has "eyes like a mountain lake." This line suggests that Harry's eyes are deep and clear, like a mountain lake. The use of the word "mountain" emphasizes Harry's connection to nature.
The poem then describes Harry's relationship with nature. The poem says that Harry "knows the lay of the land." This line suggests that Harry has a deep understanding of the land he works on. The use of the word "lay" emphasizes Harry's connection to the earth. The poem also says that Harry "reads the signs of the sky." This line suggests that Harry has a deep understanding of the weather and its impact on his work. The use of the word "signs" emphasizes Harry's connection to the natural world.
The sestet of the poem shifts the focus from Harry to the speaker of the poem. The speaker says that he wishes he could be like Harry. The speaker says that he wishes he could "plough as stoutly and as long." This line suggests that the speaker admires Harry's hard work and wishes he could work as hard as Harry. The speaker also says that he wishes he could "sing as sweetly to the horses." This line suggests that the speaker admires Harry's joy in his work and wishes he could find joy in his own work.
The poem ends with the line "O if only such men lived now." This line suggests that the speaker believes that men like Harry are rare in the modern world. The use of the word "if" emphasizes the speaker's longing for a world where men like Harry are more common. The poem ends on a wistful note, suggesting that the speaker admires Harry and wishes he could be more like him.
In conclusion, "Harry Ploughman" is a beautiful poem that celebrates the hard work and connection to nature of a ploughman named Harry. The poem is written in Hopkins' unique style, which is characterized by the use of complex language, innovative syntax, and vivid imagery. The poem is a perfect example of Victorian poetry, and it is a testament to Hopkins' skill as a poet. The poem is a celebration of the beauty of the natural world and the hard work of those who work the land. It is a poem that inspires us to appreciate the simple pleasures of life and to find joy in our work.
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