Hopkins' 'mixed insight'

01 May 2018

‘I am in so much doubt how it is best to begin that I am going to bifurcate and counterpoint myself in parallel columns.’ So begins Hopkins’ remarkable letter to Baillie, 14 May 1881. The letter divides into two neat columns. On the left, Hopkins begins, ‘On this side, what a burning shame it is that I have not [...] written to you’, and, on the right, ‘Here an ethical and Theophrastic observation’. The two lines of thought run in parallel until – their nervous energy exhausted and the poet confessing himself ‘much fagged’ – they ‘merge and surcease’ (CW, I, 440).