Gerald Manley Hopkins and the music of poetry
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This study attempts to correlate two facts about Gerard Manley Hopkins: that he was an avid musician, who theorised about and composed music; and that his poetry is characterised by its highly complex, evocative sounds and by its relation of form to meaning, sound to sense. This study is an attempt to prove that Hopkins is a "musical" poet in a specific and literal sense--that his musical knowledge and interests influenced his poetry in specific and discernible ways, making his work "musical" in a sense that other poetry of his age is not (or to an extent that other poetry is not), and resulting in much of what we consider to be characteristic in his verse. The study is divided into two parts, the first (I-III) analysing the role music plays in his theoretical writings, the second (IV-VI) tracing these musical influences through to the musical and poetic art itself. In Part One, Chapter I presents Hopkins the musician, the biographical details and philosophical background behind his musical interest; Chapter II relates this to Hopkins as priest and theologian, demonstrating music's role as central to his Scotus-based position; Chapter III then shows this musical philosophy in more detail in his theories of language and art, resulting in an ideal art of song epitomised by the art of Hopkins' favourite composer, Henry Purcell. Part Two then looks at Hopkins' art itself, shown as following this Purcellian musical ideal: Chapter IV differentiates the requirements of songs from those of poetry, and demonstrates the particular aims and techniques of Hopkins' own songs; Chapter V reveals principles of musical or song-structure behind Hopkins' concepts of sprung rhythm and other characteristic poetic devices; finally, Chapter VI analyses the poems to discover their radically musical nature. The study concludes with a brief question on the nature of "the music of poetry" generally.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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