Winter 1989 • Vol. XI No. 1 Special Anniversary Feature: Excerpts from the War YearsJanuary 1, 1989 |

The Analogical Mirrors

From the Summer 1944 issue. Hopkins is full of pitfalls for the unwary. There is a double difficulty: his Catholic beliefs and experience on one hand; his individual use of the resources of English on the other, to say nothing of his irrelevant theory of prosody. The non-Catholic reader—especially the non-Christian reader—is timid or hostile in the presence of Hopkins' faith and doctrine. He is beset with "mnemonic irrelevance" and stirred to a thousand acts of undemanded vigilance and depreciation which inevitably distort the pattern and texture of the poems. For the Catholic reader Hopkins has, understandably, a great deal of prestige value. Long accustomed to a defensive position behind a minority culture, English and American Catholics have developed multiple mental squints. Involuntarily their sensibilities have been nourished and ordered by a century or more of an alien literary and artistic activity which, faute de mieux, they still approach askance. However, the

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