Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ


1844

Born July 28 to Manley and Catherine (Smith) Hopkins, in Stratford, Essex.

1852

Family moves to Hampstead.

1854-63

At Cholmondeley [pronounced Chumly] Grammar School, Highgate.

1863

Enters Balliol College, Oxford.

1866

Received by John Henry, Cardinal Newman into the Roman Catholic Church.

1867

Graduates with a "double-first"; considered the "star of Balliol."

1868

Enters the Jesuit Novitiate and burns his early poems.

1872

Discovers the writings of Duns Scotus.

1873-74

Learning Welsh; writes extensive notes on prosody.

1875

The wreck of the Deutschland, a naval disaster in which 157 people died -- including five Franciscan nuns who had been leaving Germany due to harsh anti-Catholic laws -- inspires him to start writing again. Writes a poem commemorating the event. It not only depicts the dramatic events and heroic deeds but also tells of the poet's reconciling the terrible events with God's higher purpose. The poem displays both the religious concerns and some of the unusual meter and rhythms of his subsequent poetry not present in his few remaining early works.

1877

Ordained as a Jesuit priest; begins serving as parish assistant.

1879

Curate at Bedford Leigh, near Manchester, then sent to Liverpool to work among Irish immigrants.

1881

Assistant in a Glasgow parish; ten-month retreat in London.

1882

Becomes teacher of classics at Stonyhurst College.

1884

Appointed Fellow of University College, Dublin, and examiner in Greek for the Royal University of Ireland. His English roots, his disagreement with the trends in contemporary Irish politics, and his self-consciousness concerning his small stature (5'2"), as well as his unprepossessing nature and personal oddities meant that he was not a particularly effective teacher.

1884-89

Writing the "terrible" sonnets. His bad experiences of teaching, as well as his isolation in Ireland, deepened his gloom. Hopkins's friend, Canon Dixon, explained that his poems at this time reached the "terrible crystal," meaning that they crystallized the melancholy dejection which plagued the later part of his life.

1886

Meets W.B. Yeats; neither particularly impressed by the other.

1889

Dies June 8 of typhoid fever. Buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

1918

The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, notes and introduction by Robert Bridges, then Poet Laureate.

 

Heaven-Haven
A nun takes the veil


I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

 

Gerard Manley Hopkins icon by William Hart McNichols