‘With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?’: Light and Dark in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s ‘The Candle Indoors’ and ‘The Lantern out of Doors’
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractGerard Manley Hopkins was a poet inspired by, and very much interested in, processes of light and vision. Within his works he presents a flexible structure of metaphor that is based on the relationship between light and dark. These interchangeable elements come to symbolise Hopkins’s spirituality and religion, as well as the challenges his beliefs were subjected to, while also outlining a very nuanced interest in perception and the principles of sight. Dennis Sobolev identifies what he terms ‘the split world’ of Hopkins as he explores the ‘semiotic phenomenology’ of his writing: ‘To put it briefly “semiotic phenomenology” as it is understood here–proceeds from the grounds that are transcendent to the distinction between the subject and the object, the physical and the imaginary, nature and culture, or any other metaphysical distinctions of the “kind”’ (Sobolev 2011: 4). What Sobolev suggests is the dichotomous liminality of Hopkins’s ideas and poetry. The most prominent example of this may well be Hopkins’s own notion of the ‘inscape’: the term, itself a portmanteau of words connoting the inner being (in, inside, interior) and the outer experience (scape, landscape, escape), attempts to address what Hopkins saw as reconcilable differences between the inner character or ‘essence’ of something and the object itself (Philips 2009: xx). Also, his use of the term ‘instress’ crosses similar binaries, as it is most commonly associated with the impression, or feeling, something may relate to the careful observer.
CitationRichard Leahy, ‘With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?’: Light and Dark in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s ‘The Candle Indoors’ and ‘The Lantern out of Doors’ in Nordic Journal of English Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1 (2018) pp. 135-151
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