AUTOGRAPH POEM BY HOPKINS'S FATHER MANLEY HOPKINS 'TO MY CHILD, GERARD MANLEY. CHRISTMAS EVE 1844 (Hopkins was born on 28 July 1844), 71 lines, with a note at the end 'We have watched this babe of four or five Months, gazing on the Moon with all the fixedness of attention belonging to an Astronomer', 3 pages, quarto, paper water-marked 1843, 24 December 1844
Hail! little worshipper of Light!
Most sunny is thy sunny face, at Noon:-
Why dost thou fix so earnestly thy gaze
Upon the wandering Moon, -
And thy young eyes upraise
Adoringly to her that Melts the night?
Why do thine impotent hands
Seek, seek for ever
To clasp the lamp-flame bright
And everything that flings thee lucent rays?
Why if it chance in darkness thou awaken
Utter thy earnest, plaintive cry
As tho' the hateful bands
Of thy imprisoning gloom to sever, -
While fancy gives thee words - "Mother, I die
"By light, and thee forsaken...
Gaze on my child, thy fill
Yet stay! - an instant turn on me thy innocent sight,
Pour thro' thine eyes my heart full of delight,
And all my being thrill -
Thou Worshipper of Light!
Love of nature, including sunsets, and the concentration required for inscape were noted features of the adult Gerard Manley Hopkins (though in these ways he was perhaps not greatly different from most babies, but perhaps even more intense). 'Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies! / O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!...' ('The Starlight Night'). He also wrote a poem beginning 'Moonless darkness stands between...' and another entitled 'Moonrise June 19 1876.' The 'punishment of the eyes', whereby he looked only at the ground, was a discipline the mature Gerard Manley Hopkins imposed on himself.
Manley Hopkins, Gerard Manley Hopkins's father, was an Average Adjuster. He wrote A Handbook of Average (1857) and A Manual of Marine Insurance (1867). He also produced two books of poetry, a drawing-room play, The New School of Design, an historical account of Hawaii, of which he was Consul-General in London for over forty years, a book of religious poems and an unpublished novel. He wrote book reviews for The Times, including a review of In Memoriam (in which he criticised Tennyson for his exaggeration of grief), articles for The Cornhill and Once a Week, dramatic monologues, hymns, letters, and poems sent to newspapers. Some of his poems were printed in anthologies such as Lyra Eucharistica and Lyra Mystica, alongside poems by Christina Rossetti. In one book he collaborated with his son Gerard - The Cardinal Numbers. White finds some similarities in their ideas and rhythms.
Publication of this poem has not been traced.
PROVENANCE: A male direct descendant of the brother of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
REFERENCE: Norman White, Hopkins: A Literary Biography, 1992.