'Terrible' Transcendence? Hopkins' Dublin Sonnets as Flesh-Made-Word

Deborah Frenkel


Gerard Manley Hopkins' 1885-1886 Dublin Sonnets have frequently been considered expressive of an absolute dualist metaphysics, to the extent that they dramatise an experience of 'terrible' alienation of matter from mind. Yet in achieving this, the Sonnets - like much of Hopkins' work - employ a language of insistent materiality, emphasising their own groundings in the cadences and rhythms of speech. Considered in light of this spoken poetic, which articulates a vision of oppressive embodiment via a voice which is emphatically, expressively embodied, the works reveal a relationship between spirit and flesh which might be regarded as less dichotomous than synthetic.

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