chapter  6
21 Pages

The Irish Poems

The last poem Hopkins wrote in England was the long, warm, metaphysical whimsy The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we Breathe. In a dramatic change, his first poem in Ireland was the distraught sonnet The times are nightfall, left unfinished after eleven lines. Hopkins had come to Dublin in early February as professor at University College and examiner for The Royal University of Ireland, but within two weeks he expressed an unfitness for the level of the position and the duties. His Early Irish Poems and the Terrible Sonnets of 1885 reflect this dark mood, while his later Poems of Dublin and Monasterevan, his Caudal Sonnets, and his Four Last Sonnets range in mood from elation to resignation. The early Dublin poems do play, though heavily and darkly. Their fun lies in exaggeration, a conversational phrase amid verse drama, puns on Winefreds hair and eyes, blood that dances on a knifeblade and play with grammar, syntax, rhythm, and alliteration.