Silence, Diminuendo, and Fermata in the Music of Poetry (in the Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins) Cover Image

Cisza, diminuendo i fermata w muzyce poezji (na przykładzie Gerarda Manleya Hopkinsa)
Silence, Diminuendo, and Fermata in the Music of Poetry (in the Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Author(s): Ewa Borkowska
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies, Studies of Literature, Comparative Study of Literature, Other Language Literature
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego

Summary/Abstract: Silence does not always mean the absence of sounds; contrariwise, as in Heidegger, it is charged with sonority which, as in Hopkins, “erupts” with the symphony of sounds. Hopkins’s poem “The Wreck of the Deutschland” (1875) was written after seven years of silence that preceded the poet’s entering the Society of Jesus. He destroyed all poems he had written before 1875 when he was requested by the rector of the college where he studied to write something about the wreck of the ship off the shores of the North Sea when “five Franciscan nuns drowned between midnight and morning of December 7th, 1875.” He responded to the challenge and in thirty-five stanza masterpiece which presented one of the biggest poetic elegies of Victorian England. All Hopkins’s poems are not only a polyphony of sounds articulated in “Sprung Rhythm” but also the moments of silence, as in “The Windhover” in which the description of Nature in the octet is divided from the sestet by the caesura of the rest or pause (fermata in music) or the pianissimo followed by meditation on Christ’s passion. The “grammar of creation” in poetry and music has its own rules; usually the invocation of the poem is a loud symphony of sounds which progressively tends to fall silent in the final code of the poem or the musical piece. Silence is usually associated with the contemplation of Sacrum but also with the time of creation in the poet’s (composer’s) mind; each poem (or a musical work) is a kind of “spiritual exercise” (Loyola) which is practiced until the final diminuendo that reduces force and loudness of sound to the quietness of death.

  • Issue Year: 2016
  • Issue No: 33
  • Page Range: 9-23
  • Page Count: 15
  • Language: Polish