chapter  3
15 Pages

The Early Poems

Hopkinss first extant poem is The Escorial, a boyhood work written in 1860 when he was 15, which won the annual Poetry Prize at his High gate School. Seven other poems date from his schooldays, but most of the Early Poems are from his Oxford years. He wrote several more at the Oratory School and in his early years as a Jesuit, until his experiments ended with the brilliant, self-confident ode The Wreck of the Deutschland, written in 1875-1876. Hopkinss first poem, his prize-winning The Escorial,. describes a royal palace near Madrid. Written in 1860 for the annual poetry competition at High gate School, the poem begins to play in its epigraph, an understated, self-deprecating line from Theocritus which turns Hopkins into a frog. Young Gerard, bright and confident schoolboy, of course uses the Greek. A pun and a metaphor continue its play.