Hopkins’s Material Poetics: Sense and the Inscapes of Speech MICHAEL RUTHERGLEN erard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges, 1879: “But as air, melody, is G what strikes me most of all in music and design in painting, so design, pattern, or what I am in the habit of calling ‘inscape’ is what I above all in aim at in poetry. Now it is the virtue of design, pattern, or inscape to be distinc- tive, and it is the vice of distinctiveness to become queer. This vice I cannot have escaped” (Corres., 1: 334). Certainly it caught him in “The Sea and the Skylark,” a sonnet that tends t oward the sheer musicality it ascribes to its titu- lar bird: Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend, His rash- fresh re- winded new- skeinèd score In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour And pelt músic, till none’s to spill nor spend. (PW, p. 143; ll. 5–8) Writing three years later to Bridges, to whom the sonnet evidently gave much trou ble, Hopkins blames its opacities on a fascination with cynghanedd, the “consonant chiming” characteristic of Welsh poetry. Consonance may over- whelm the poem’s englyns, or “sense,” which
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Oct 5, 2018
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