Summer 1989 • Vol. XI No. 3 Poetry |

Hopkins and Whitman

Hard to imagine two men more unlike, the one a solitary wrestling in his cell with palpable Doubt, the other striding the continent in great unbooted certainty. And yet there was that kinship, pitched past pitch of grief, and battlefield nursing-- "What is removed drops horribly in a pail"-- and Hopkins' own admission: "I know Walt Whitman's mind to be more like my own than any man's living. As he is a very great scoundrel, this is not a pleasant confession." How magnetic the expanse between fastidious and crude when cast into the field of dappled things! For Hopkins, the cows and finches and trout of a world whose stippled shadows served to throw into relief the Godlight, though his own scree of darkness, the mountainslide, the mind's cliffs of fall, was for days heaped on days impenetrable; for Whitman, the skewed patchwork of criminal and child twinned in one body and one land, sending out its pied beauty in a cruel Morse-- blue/gray, blue/gray--horrible and r

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