Monday, 6 May 2013

Bodleian buys 'significant' Hopkins manuscript

A draft manuscript of Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins' celebrated work Binsey Poplars has been bought at auction by Oxford's Bodleian Libraries.

Oxford University said it was the most significant item of the poet's work to be auctioned in more than 40 years.

The "late autograph draft manuscript" of the poem, it continued, had been the last known major Hopkins manuscript in private hands.

The poem was first published in 1918, 30 years after the poet's death.

Hopkins, who died in 1889 at the age of 44, wrote Binsey Poplars while he was a curate at St Aloysius's Church in Oxford.

The Oxford alumnus penned it in response to the felling of trees running alongside the Thames in Binsey, a village on the west side of the city.

"O if we but knew what we do, When we delve or hew - Hack and rack the growing green!" the poem's second verse begins.

It was first published when his friend, the poet Robert Bridges, edited a volume of Hopkins' poems.

The only other known manuscripts of Binsey Poplars survive in four copies kept in the Bodleian at the University of Oxford.


"It is wonderful to be able to add this draft of one of his most celebrated works," said Dr Christopher Fletcher, keeper of Special Collections at the Bodleian.

"The various revisions in the draft, particularly when studied alongside the other drafts, give us a remarkable insight into how the poet crafts his passionate lament on man's disregard for the sanctity of nature."

Despite only a small number of his poems appearing during his lifetime, Hopkins is regarded as one of the Victorian era's greatest poets.

His revolutionary, "difficult" style, with its new rhythmic effects, influenced the work of Modernist and later writers.

The Bodleian has organised a one-day display to showcase the newly acquired manuscript alongside the other four drafts of the poem.

The free event takes place on 9 May.

Source: BBC

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