HILDA HOLLIS SOBOLEV RECENTLY COMMENTED THAT GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS IS a more marginal figure than in previous generations because current criticism has understood Hopkins to believe "in the immanence of meaning in language."1 Hillis Miller is a critic frequently cited as an exponent of this position. Claiming that Hopkins transforms his "early experience of the absence of God . . . into what is, in Victorian poetry, an almost unique sense of the immanence of God in nature and in the human soul," Miller argues that Hopkins "integrates all things into one chorus of many voices all singing, in their different ways, the name of Christ. Poetry is the imitation and echo of this chorus."2 However, in the next section of his essay, Miller proceeds to argue that "Hopkins is ultimately forced to recognize that both man and nature are fallen. This recognition explodes into discordant fragments the harmonious chorus of creation, leaving him once more in suffering and isolation" (p. 324). I suggest that Hopkins' recognition of discord is evident in his earlier poems and that it is fundamental to understanding some of them. In particular, I propose a reading of "The Windhover," which is not singular,
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
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