The second part of The Wreck of the Deutschland is less successful than the first. Hopkins turns towards religious theorizing rather than the personal contemplation of the first twenty stanzas. Hopkins, like many of staunch religious belief, refuses to accept the possibility of other truths. Catholicism is the only way, and those who reject this will go to Hell. Hopkins’ lonely existence and lack of personal relationships outside of those of priest to parishioner means that the poem is lacking in real human emotion, for all its personal insight, it is the experience of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and fails to take into consideration the existence of a communal human existence.

"God’s Grandeur"

Hopkins’ theory of ‘inscape’ is best exemplified in "God’s Grandeur". Hopkins affirms that "The world is charged with the Grandeur of God". However, due to the increasingly materialistic nature of the age, man is unable to appreciate the omnipotence of God: "all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil… ". The image of God’s power flaming out "like shining from shook foil" is one of Hopkins’ best, and succeeds in capturing the ‘inscape’ of God’s power. One gets the feeling that Hopkins is stretching language to its very limits, accepting that that which he is trying to express is beyond all expression: he is representing his own experience and hoping that his readers can empathize.

Hopkins believes that true knowledge is to be found in the study of nature. By cutting himself off from nature, man is cutting himself off from God. Hopkins’ indictment of industrialism is an indictment of modern humanity itself. Hopkins’ skill in this poetry is his success in combining this censure of modernity with an evocation of nature which is free from the tarnish of industry:

"And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things."

"The Windhover"

"The Windhover" is perhaps the most successful of Hopkins’ poetry in its ability to brilliantly capture the ‘inscape’ of its subject - the falcon. Like so often in his work, however, Hopkins cannot leave the poem as a tribute to nature, but insists on dragging God into the poem, ruining the power of the evocation of the majesty of the bird. Hopkins has come upon the falcon early one morning, and it is his joy in the discovery that gives the poem much of its power:

"I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-

dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding

Of the rolling level underneath him steady air…"

Hopkins is in many ways too civilized in his writing – he is unable to leave his enjoyment of the falcon’s beauty as a tribute to the primal attraction of nature. By searching for a moral lesson in nature, Hopkins reduces it to a lesson for his reader. Didacticism is Hopkins’ most off-putting trait.

The second part of this poem descends into the realms of preaching. Hopkins gets away with this when the thought process (which led to the philosophical moral at the end of the poem) is clearly followed by the reader. In "The Windhover", however, this is not the case. This poem is interesting because Hopkins himself seems aware of his habit of imposing moral endings on poems whose real skill is in their evocation of nature. Hopkins’ description of the falcon does capture some of the primal spirit of the bird. The end of the poem clods in its attempt to endow with moral signification an experience which was simply a moment of nature’s wonder.

"Felix Randal"

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