Unlike those we have been looking at recently, Gerald Manley Hopkins is known, as a creative writer, only for his poetry. But he is known also as a Catholic priest, and his faith is inextricably bound up with his work. If we recall Tennyson, in In Memoriam, responding to the doubt brought by scientific discoveries to Christian dogma by simply reaffirming his faith, Hopkins did the same thing with greater anguish as well as drama, is befitted his calling.
The simplest poem of this nature, and one of the strongest, is the sonnet in which he wrestles with what seems an unjust world. The latter part of the poem contrasts the fecundity of nature with the statutory celibacy of Catholic priests, highlighted here in the term ‘Time’s Eunuch’. The plea with which the poem ends then is most moving, with its need for a purpose beyond what seems an arid passivity.