Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems Themes

Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems Themes


One can question whether the most prominent theme in the poetry of Hopkins is Nature or God; however, as far as the structure goes, his poems begin with appreciation of nature. In the context of the content of his poetry, he was a follower of the romantic flavour of poetry in how profoundly he appreciates and describes the beauty of nature. In a poem like Pied Beauty, nature is seen as a beautiful, diverse force that holds uniqueness in every conceivable way. Same is the case with As Kingfishers Catch Fire, where the very title brings out the idea of beauty and life in nature.


One of the most prominent themes, or rather, the most prominent theme that manifests itself in Hopkins's poetry is God. This characteristic of his poetry brings out a very important Victorian element, Religion. He believes that God is everything, and man “Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is”. He says the stamp of God all around him, an element that surfaces in As Kingfishers Catch Fire.


The idea of inscape, or the uniqueness of the essence of each being is an extremely important theme in the poetry of Hopkins. In fact, it is this theme that sets him apart from both Romantics and Victorians. He believes that each being ”Deals out that being indoors each one dwells”, pointing out that all beings have their own unique purpose on the earth. This lends to their individuality. This theme is highly prominent in both As Kingfishers Catch Fire and Pied Beauty, where he shows the unique identity of all different beings.

Inscape (experience of this individuality)

This is a very idiosyncratic element in the poetry of Hopkins. To him, what is most important is that man experiences the unique fire that is fostered in all beings. In Pied Beauty, he admires all the dappled things, having had a moment of epiphany and experienced the true unique purpose of all these different beings.

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