Hopkins and Finch strongly explore the genre of personal thoughts and struggles through their poems I wake and feel the feel of dark, not day and On Myself. The idea of human internal processes helps convey the depths of the poet’s minds, and the feelings they display within the poems. This display of emotions calls for an understanding of attitudes and meaning behind the poems, through language, form, and structure within the contexts of the poems. There is a display of angst on both sides of the speaker but this angst has different purposes. In Hopkins’ sonnet, the speaker’s depression shines through and offers validity for the dark tone of the poem. Whereas, Finch’s poem is a display of emotions in regards to the unequal position of women in society.
Both poets explore the genre of personal thoughts and struggles to form the basis of their poems, and these feelings are an indicative purpose for the dissimilar, yet, related attitudes displayed by Hopkins and Finch. The attitudes depicted are coherent from the start of both poems Finch starts off her poem by ‘thank thee’, whereas Hopkins’ speaker ‘feel the fell of the dark, not day.’ (Finch, 1) (Hopkins, 1) Through these lines, it is clear Hopkins’ poem is based off the speaker’s negative connotations and Finch’s poem is generally within the basis of positive undertones. I say generally, as this idea can be counteracted by the ‘but’ within the second line of On Myself. (Finch, 1)Hopkins’ speaker can be suggested as experiencing a darkness which is suppressing him, to such an extent that he cannot obey ‘God’s deepest decree.'(Hopkins, 9) The thoughts displayed by the speaker are relevant to that of an individual who has lost their purpose within life, and feels claustrophobic of the atmosphere eating him, which is a feeling many readers across the world are used to experiencing. Furthermore, the negative interpretations of ‘black’, ‘dead’, ‘blood’ and ‘curse’ resemble that of a nightmare which the speaker cannot seem to run away from. (Hopkins, 2, 7, 11) The speaker realises his condition and feels that this sinking feeling resembles that of ‘hours I mean years, mean life’, something which is taking over every aspect of his life. This display links to the feelings typically displayed in an individual who obtains depression, a mental illness which the speaker can be suggested as having, through the basis of his negative outlook on life. The negative persona displayed by Hopkins’ speaker counteracts the positive outlook of Finch’s speaker in On Myself. The speaker is displayed as being content with her lifestyle, even if she happens to be supressed in one way or another. The speaker acknowledges she is ‘of the weaker kind’ but still thinks of her position as being of one where ‘my wings can be displayed’ ‘when in the sun.’ (Finch, 2, 11) The speaker implies that only when given the chance she is able to be present herself in how she wants, but this is only on basis of circumstance, something which she still ‘on my self can live’ with. (Finch, 9)Finch’s speaker is representative of how one can make do with their position and work from what they have; yet, Hopkins’ speaker represents reluctance in wanting to make a change, even when you have the free will to do so. Both speakers form of overseeing their lifestyles is a way in which Finch and Hopkins obtain similarities in their poems.
Moreover, another way in which Finch and Hopkins’ poems can compare is through the speaker’s thoughts on the position of others around them. For instance, the speaker of On Myself speaks of those ‘If they’re denied, I on my self can live.’ (Finch, 9)Within the context of the poem, it can be implied that women of the 17th century who were perceived as the ‘weaker kind’ were given ‘unequal chance’ in society, but the speaker implies that she can continue living this way as this inequality given to women affects others more than herself. (Finch, 2, 10)In terms of the speaker, she experiences the ‘pleasure’, ‘praise’ and ‘plenty’ which ‘trifles’ around her are not familiar with and cannot experience. (Finch, 5) Correspondingly, in terms of Hopkins’ speaker, the speaker compares his suffering to those he perceives as ‘lost’ and suggests that due to feeling this way he can be seen as one who is also ‘lost’. (Hopkins, 13)Hopkins’ speaker also speaks of a ‘dearest him that lives alas!’ (Hopkins, 8) This line is suggestive of Hopkins’ speaker talking about himself in third person and how he wants the past version of himself to come back or could actually be a message of help from another as suggested by his ‘cries like dead letters sent.’ (Hopkins, 7)Additionally, Hopkins’ speaker compares his position to those who have passed without religious guidance. He compares their ‘scourge’ to his suffering and is suggestive of them suffering from the hell-fire after their deaths. (Hopkins, 13) Yet, even through this hellish comparison, the speaker still believes that his emotional suffering is worse than those who have already passed and supposedly gone to hell and where they have become ‘sweating selves.’ (Hopkins, 14)
Other than the contrasting portrayal of emotional connotations (negative and positive), both poets have dissimilar illustrations of the language and form within their poems. Within On Myself, Finch uses gustatory, kinaesthetic and visual imagery to create a picture of her thoughts and feelings. Using the word ‘taste’, the gustatory imagery is depictive of the opportunities the speaker of the poem is able to ‘taste.’ Within this context, the ‘taste’ is not literal but a physical depiction of her position in life. (Finch, 7)The emphasis of the ‘p’ in the alliteration of ‘pleasures and praise and plenty’ contrasts to the emphasis Hopkins puts on the ‘b’ in ‘blood brimmed.'(Finch, 5) (Hopkins, 11) With links to the positive imagery referenced earlier, Finch’s speaker is suggestive of the optimistic feelings she has ‘with me’, in comparison to the deathly as well as self-enforced imagery depicted by Hopkins’ speaker. (Finch, 5) Once again, reinforcing that it is his ‘blood’ which is the cause for his ‘curse’ and he is the ultimate reason for his emotional downfall. (Hopkins, 11) Hopkins uses a symbol of baking to portray the effort he puts in, and how this effort is not being reaped and is not ultimately effective, ‘Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough.'(Hopkins, 12) Not only does the use of ‘dull’ reinforce the emotional condition of the speaker, but the lack of space between self and yeast implies the attachment between the speaker’s actions and the speaker himself. (Hopkins, 12) This creates a further understanding of the speaker being the cause of his own concern. This idea counteracts the space between the ‘my’ and ‘self’ within Finch’s poem, where the space emphasises how the speaker is truly on herself in terms of her status within society, and how only she can progress on her own. (Finch, 9) Evidently, the space within the line is ironic as the speaker is content with herself even with the troubles she must overcome on her own, but the lack of space in Hopkins’ poem creates a reluctant attachment between the speaker and his emotional troubles. However, there are also similarities between these factors, as this portrayal is symbolic in how the speakers of both poems can only face their obstacles truly by themselves. In addition, the representation of light and dark in both poems is relevant in portraying both speakers’ relationship with God. The first line of Hopkins’ poem is enough to display the speaker’s religious battle with himself and God. The speaker does not feel the light which comes with the new day, but the darkness of the night instead, ‘I wake and feel the feel of dark, not day.'(Hopkins, 1) The lack of light is representative of the absence of God in the speaker’s life, to such an extent where a day takes the emotional toll of the gloom and melancholy of the night instead. In contrast, Finch’s speaker is accepting of both ‘the sun’ and ‘the shade’, to such an extent that she feels ‘blessed.'(Finch, 11-12) This supports the idea of the speaker’s relationship with God being so strong that she is accepting of either the positions of the ‘sun’ or ‘shade’ as she knows it is God’s way of showing care and understanding. (Finch, 11-12)
There is a display of various rhyme schemes within both On Myself and I wake and feel the feel of dark, not day. Finch uses a mixture of perfect and near rhymes to form the lines within her poem. This combination evokes the images Finch intends for her poem, in terms of sensory and visual factors which helps create an overall personal effect of the poem. Hopkins’ rhyme scheme differs to that of Finch’s. Hopkins uses a rhyme scheme where stressed syllables are followed by a range of unstressed syllables as well as regular iambic pentameters, a pattern which is constant throughout I wake and feel the feel of dark, not day. This rhyme scheme can be shown within the first line which ends in ‘day’ and rhymes with ‘delay’ which is on the fourth line of the poem, and how ‘spent’ and ‘went’ rhyme together by following each other back to back within the lines of the poem. (Hopkins, 2-3) In comparison, the last words of each line in Finch’s poem rhyme with the words above and beneath it, for example, ‘designed’, ‘kind’, ‘taste’ and waste.’ (Finch, 1-8) This is significant in indicating the speaker’s stability and content with herself. Further reinstating the emotional positions of both speakers, the contrast in the rhyme schemes of both poems is also significant in showing the differing conditions of both speakers. In Hopkins’ poem, the rhyme resonates with the misery of the speaker and links to his difficulty in getting his words out across the page. Whereas, the stable rhyme scheme within Finch’s poem resonates with the comfort and stability the speaker has with her position. For instance, the use of enjambment is prominent in the latter part of both stanzas in Hopkins’ poem. (Hopkins, 6-8) (Hopkins, 12-14) This echoes the speaker’s continuous flow of thoughts and represents the naturalness of his position due to the common human position he obscures, negative thoughts and feelings. The same use of the enjambment can also be shown to be prominent in Finch’s poem within lines 7-10 which is also representative of the speaker’s natural flow of speech. Another common attribute is the use of a caesura. The use of a caesura in both poems is representative of taking a pause when speaking. This can be shown through ‘their just value.’ (Finch, 6) The full stop implies the serious impact the speaker wants to put on those specific words and argue the ending of her array of thoughts in that moment. Similarly, the use of full stops can be illustrated on numerous lines of Hopkins poem. For example, ‘With within I speak this.’ Like the full stop in Finch’s poem, the use of this implies a separation between the contexts of the poem and allows for the reader’s focus on the specific point of the line. (Hopkins, 5)Additionally, the use of a full stop in both poems is implying of a pause both poets seized when forming their poems and displays the ways in how their poems should be read (through taking a pause in the middle of the line).
Both poems explore their speaker’s personal emotions through the use of tone and structure. The poetic texts generally compare more on the basis of tone, rather than their structure. Both poets set a religious tone within their poems, through the mention of the presence of God. Both poets Christian upbringing can be suggested as being what is depicted within their poems, such as the mention of ‘religion waste’ in On Myself. (Finch, 8)1 Even though the speaker of Hopkins’ poem is not depicted to have the strongest relationship with God, there is still a presence through the understanding that the speaker feels he is ‘God’s most deep decree.’ (Hopkins, 9) As previously mentioned, both speakers also compare in terms of the direction of their voices and speaking of others. It is unclear who these specific individuals are; however, Finch’s speaker does start off with thanking ‘heav’n’, so the direction of her words can be implied as being towards God within the heavens. Likewise, Hopkins’ speaker is also shown to be speaking to someone ‘that lives alas!’, this someone can be interpreted as his past self or God, and upholds the status of a guide for the speaker. (Hopkins, 8) Both speakers use the poetical platforms of both poems to broadcast their thoughts, whether it is through themselves or a different persona relating to their stature. Finch’s speaker shows her thoughts by speaking on the beliefs she has on her mind, and does so through making a point on how she does not feel affected if she happens to be stifled in any shape or form, ‘I can bless the shade.’ (Finch, 12) On the contrary, Hopkins’ speaker does depict his thoughts, but through a differing persona of himself. It is clear that the speaker does not enjoy the accountability of his responsibility for his actions. The speaker creates the persona of someone who he does not feel is a part of him, a darker version of himself. This version can be implied as being the person who is ‘God’s most deep decree’, and who is the reasoning behind the position of the speaker. (Hopkins, 9) It is as if it is this version of the speaker is who is causing the dull emotions upon the speaker as illustrated throughout I wake and feel the feel of dark, not day.
1 George Manley Hopkins, Poetry Foundation,
Anne Finch, Countess of Winchelsea, Poetry Foundation,