Hopkins’s poetic reputation necessarily rests on the poetry of his maturity: the astonishing ‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’ (1875), the fifty completed poems and those unfinished, some substantial pieces, notable even as torsos. Until recently editions have printed the finished poems and only then the unfinished, as though the latter could be relegated to an appendix for the curious few. But the most fragmentary lines, even from Hopkins’s student days, can be illuminating or give delight, while to read him complete, shows a poet striving, experimenting, developing, sometimes failing, in fascinating ways. Hence this study’s choice of Catherine Phillips’s edition (Oxford, 2002), which gives the poetry complete in chronological order. In reading this Part, have Phillips’s edition to hand. The first section of this Part deals with the surviving poetry up to

1868, when Hopkins determined to give up poetry [p. 20] and destroyed it all – or more precisely, all that was to hand. Much though did survive, in copies sent to family and friends, and in the Journals. What does survive reveals a significant minor poet as well as a writer seeking to find a voice. The break in composition (1868-75) is a convenient point at which

to consider the Journals (1862-75) as separate literary productions. These Journals end while Hopkins was at St Beuno’s College [pp. 25-6], shortly before the poetic outburst, beginning with ‘The Wreck’, that deals with the wonder of nature and the power and glory of God. Again, the ending of Hopkins’s novitiate in 1878 and his early priesthood offer a convenient point to discuss the sermons and other devotional writings. The rest of the mature poetry is then explored, and the letters dealt with last, since they provide a retrospect of

friendship and point forward to the critical responses explored in Part III.