How Hopkins Played
Ever the self-confident individualist, Hopkins wrote Bridges in 1888, The effect of studying masterpieces is to make the author admire and do otherwise. So it must be on every original artist to some degree, on the author to a marked degree. In terms of play, a reader might expect to find patterns in the content, the modes, and the literary expression of Hopkinss playfulness. In content, though, no patterns emerge, for playfulness touches almost everything Hopkins treats: God, the saints, sacraments, sin, himself, other people, education, nature, birds, animals, fish, literature, art, music, politics, beauty, ugliness the full scope of his experience, it seems. But clear patterns do appear in his modes of play and in his literary expressions of play. Hopkins enjoyed the comic and ridiculous, too, and the incongruity which underlies them. Death pounds a bass drum, Despair swirls and drowns in a black pool, Hopes hair turns grey overnight, stormwinds play bugles.