Though undoubtedly "Carrion Comfort" is the most famous of Gerard Manley Hopkins's "terrible" sonnets, for my money none are so grim as the poem (65) which avers "No worst, there is none." In this poem Hopkins creates a physical landscape for his feelings of desolation:
My cries heave, herd long; huddle in a main, a chief-
woe, world-sorrow; on an age-old anvil wince and sing-
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked 'No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief.'
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep. [5-14]
He moves from the physical world of his "cries" into the metaphorical landscape of terrible mountains, with their dark, unplumbed depths. This mountainous wasteland brings to mind, perhaps, the landscapes of Lovecraft or the threatening giants of "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came."
How does the way Hopkins connects or separates words (makes compound words or hyphenates at the end of lines to make rhyme) affect the tone of the poem?
The presence of "Fury" as a character in this poem is a very Swinburnian touch. Whose voice is this?"
Does the poem end on a positive or a negative note?
Last modified 19 November 2003.
Thanks to Alex Papanicolopoulos of Cornell for correcting an error.