Poetry Essay

Submitted By Ryan-Hamill
Words: 1618
Pages: 7

Epiphany In Poetry Epiphanies in the poems “Carrion Comfort” by G.M Hopkins and “Dejection: An Ode” by S.T. Coleridge are initially seen as an act of healing and consolation , but a tone of ambiguity in “Carrion Comfort”, and of dismay in “Dejection: An Ode” ultimately complicate the very possibility of healing. In “Carrion Comfort” the epiphany leads to further questions about God in relation to the speaker’s struggles. Consequently, this endless cycle of questioning results in a distinctly ambiguous tone in which no answers can be found. Similarly, the epiphany in “Dejection: An Ode” originally functions as a healing act, but subsequently results in a consistent and endless battle of dismay. This is because the speaker comes to terms with human nature, that is, the only way to truly connect with oneself and the world around an individual is through joy, an emotion he does not feel he cannot experience. The tone of ambiguity and of dismay both illustrate, in their respective cases, that epiphanies do not result in positive outcomes for the individuals.
“Carrion Comfort” is undoubtedly a highly personal poem by G.M Hopkins and thus provides a significant amount of insight about his internal struggles. It is clearly evident at the beginning of the poem that the author possesses a highly pessimistic outlook on life and consequently is giving up because he feels like he can do no more. In a turn of events, however, he begins to see a slight glimmer of what he sees as hope in his situation in the sense that when he is choosing to be he is necessarily rejecting suicide. Regardless, as negative as this may be, it is the starting point for positive thinking which leads to Hopkin’s epiphany. For this reason it initially appears that Hopkins epiphany is a form of healing and comfort. An example of this is that Hopkins writes, “My heart lo! Lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, /cheer” (Hopkins 11-12). This is his moment of extreme positivity, which provides evidence for the idea of a healing epiphany because it appears that nothing can stop his new found positivity and joy. Moreover, this depicts Hopkin’s epiphany as the event which restored his faith in God when he says “my God!” Hopkins writes, “Of now done darkness, I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my god” (Hopkins 17). This is significant because he now has someone to believe in and guide him through his hardships. Although he believes God is the source of his struggle, Hopkins also recognizes that God is also the source of his salvation. Internal dialogue regarding human nature is consistently present throughout “Carrion Comfort”. The reason for this is that the individual has an epiphany which snaps him into a conscious, active state of mind causing him to question his static state of pessimism and the healing process. In doing so, he begins to be overwhelmed by a sense of dismay due to the fact that he begins to question God. An example of this can be found in lines 13 and 14 of the poem with the statement, “The hero whose heaven-handling flung me,/foot trod” (Hopkins 13-14). Hopkins thought process is although God is the source of his consolation, why would he put him through such a challenging period in his life? Was he trying to make him a stronger person or did he want him to suffer? This relates to the thesis due to the fact that although the epiphany brings Hopkins a sense of distinguished optimism, ultimately, it creates a strong sense of ambiguity as he begins to ask a series of questions about God and his motives. Furthermore, the tone of ambiguity is reinforced through Hopkins writing style and structure. He appears to be stumbling over his own thoughts in “Carrion Comfort”. An example of this is that he writes, “Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist-slack they may be-these last strands of man
In me or, most wear, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something,hope,wish day come, not choose not to be” (Hopkins 1-4).
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