‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins is a poem that explores the yearnings of the speaker for a sanctuary free from the storms and adversities of life. The poem delves into themes of desire, spirituality, and the pursuit of beauty.
Through graphic imagery and emotive language, Hopkins portrays a longing for an idealized existence where springs never fail, lilies bloom, and serenity prevails. The poem captures the human longing for transcendence and a refuge from the challenges of the world, showcasing Hopkins’s poetic craftsmanship and depth of expression.
Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil Gerard Manley HopkinsI 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.
Explore Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil
‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins is a poem that explores the speaker’s yearning for a tranquil and idyllic existence free from hardships.
In a concise and emotive manner, the poem expresses the desire to escape to a place where nature flourishes undisturbed and where the storms of life cannot reach.
The poem begins with the speaker expressing a deep longing to be in a place untouched by the harsh realities of the world. He desires to go to a location where there is an abundance of springs that never run dry, symbolizing eternal freshness and vitality. This place is envisioned as a haven where the tormenting forces of nature, represented by the “sharp and sided hail,” do not exist. Instead, the surroundings are adorned with the delicate beauty of a few lilies in bloom, symbolizing purity and grace.
The speaker continues by expressing his request to be in a place devoid of storms. He yearns for a serene and peaceful existence where the tumultuous winds of adversity cannot reach. The “green swell” mentioned refers to the gentle undulations of the grassy landscape, while the “havens dumb” imply a silence that envelops this idealized sanctuary. The speaker desires to be beyond the reach of the turbulent sea, which represents the unpredictability and turbulence of life’s challenges.
Structure and Form
‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins is a quatrain poem consisting of two stanzas, each containing four lines. The poem follows a distinct structure and form, contributing to its overall impact and meaning.
The poem’s quatrain structure creates a sense of balance and symmetry, with each stanza presenting a complete thought or idea. This form allows for a concise and focused expression of the speaker’s desires and yearnings. The four-line structure also enables the poet to convey the poem’s message with brevity and precision.
In terms of meter, the poem does not strictly adhere to a specific pattern. However, it exhibits a loose iambic rhythm in some lines, characterized by an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. This irregularity in the meter adds a sense of naturalness and spontaneity to the poem’s overall flow.
The poem’s form reflects its content, with the concise stanzas mirroring the speaker’s longing for simplicity and tranquility. The compactness of each stanza enhances the impact of the images presented, emphasizing the speaker’s desire for a world free from harsh elements and disturbances.
Furthermore, the use of enjambment is evident in the poem, where a sentence or thought flows seamlessly into the next line without a pause. This technique creates a sense of fluidity and continuity, allowing the ideas and emotions to unfold smoothly. It also contributes to the poem’s rhythm and musicality, enhancing the overall aesthetic experience.
In ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil.’ Gerard Manley Hopkins addresses several distinct themes through vivid imagery and emotional expressions. The poem explores themes of longing, transcendence, and the quest for spiritual sanctuary.
One prominent theme is the longing for an idyllic existence. The speaker expresses a deep yearning to escape the hardships of the world and find a place where “springs not fail” and “a few lilies blow.” This longing signifies a desire for a tranquil and harmonious environment, free from the adversities of life.
Transcendence is another theme that emerges in the poem. The speaker seeks a realm beyond the storms and turmoil of the earthly realm. He yearns to be in a place “Where no storms come” and “out of the swing of the sea.” This desire for transcendence reflects a longing for spiritual elevation and a sense of higher purpose.
The theme of transformation is also present in the poem. The mention of a nun taking the veil suggests a journey of religious dedication and commitment. The act of taking the veil symbolizes a transformative moment of surrendering worldly desires for a life of devotion and spiritual growth.
Furthermore, the poem touches upon the theme of divine grace and beauty. The imagery of the lilies blooming and the serene havens elicit a sense of divine presence and harmony. It suggests an idealized vision of heaven as a place where beauty and serenity abound.
Poetic Techniques and Figurative Language
Gerard Manley Hopkins employs various poetic techniques and figurative language in ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ to convey his message effectively and create a vivid sensory experience.
- Imagery: One technique he utilizes is vivid imagery. Hopkins uses descriptive language to paint a picture of the desired realm, such as the portrayal of fields where “springs not fail” and “a few lilies blow.” This imagery appeals to the senses and enhances the reader’s understanding of the speaker’s longing for a peaceful and beautiful sanctuary.
- Figurative language, particularly symbolism, is also prominent in the poem. The “sharp and sided hail” represents the hardships and challenges of life that the speaker wishes to escape. The lilies, on the other hand, symbolize purity and grace, embodying the desired tranquility. These symbols deepen the emotional impact of the poem and contribute to its overall meaning.
- Personification: Hopkins employs personification to bring elements of nature to life. The “green swell” is described as being “in the havens dumb,” attributing human characteristics of silence and stillness to the landscape. This personification creates a sense of serenity and calmness, further reinforcing the poem’s theme of a peaceful haven.
- Enjambment: The poet also utilizes enjambment, where thoughts flow uninterrupted from one line to the next. For instance, the phrase “Where springs not fail” extends across two lines, creating a seamless transition and maintaining a sense of fluidity in the poem. This technique enhances the rhythm and musicality of the verses.
- Alliteration: Lastly, Hopkins employs alliteration to add emphasis and musicality to certain phrases. For example, the repetition of the “s” sound in “springs not fail” and “sided hail” creates a melodic effect and draws attention to these key elements.
I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.
In the first stanza of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem, ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil,’ the speaker expresses a deep yearning for an idealized existence, free from the hardships and adversities of the world. The stanza evokes a sense of longing and portrays the speaker’s desire for a serene and tranquil realm.
The opening line, “I have desired to go,” immediately establishes the personal and introspective nature of the speaker’s yearning. It conveys a strong sense of longing and a desire to escape from the current state of being.
The phrase “Where springs not fail” suggests a place where a source of life and renewal is constant and abundant. It signifies the speaker’s yearning for a realm devoid of drought or scarcity, where vitality and freshness never diminish. This image of eternal springs symbolizes the desire for perpetual renewal and harmonious existence.
The line “To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail” presents a vivid contrast between the harshness of the natural elements and the desired sanctuary. The sharp and sided hail represents the adversities and challenges of life. By desiring to be in fields where such hail does not exist, the speaker seeks a place free from hardships, where peace and safety prevail.
The stanza concludes with the image of “a few lilies blow,” which symbolizes purity, beauty, and serenity. The presence of these lilies further emphasizes the speaker’s longing for a tranquil environment where nature flourishes undisturbed. The word “blow” suggests a gentle movement, evoking a sense of grace and harmony.
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.
In the second stanza of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem, ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil,’ the speaker continues to express his desire for a sanctuary free from tumultuous disturbances. The stanza delves deeper into the theme of seeking refuge from life’s storms and embracing a serene existence.
The stanza begins with the speaker’s declaration, “And I have asked to be,” which emphasizes his active pursuit of this desired state. It conveys a sense of agency and determination in seeking a place of tranquility.
The line “Where no storms come” encapsulates the speaker’s yearning for a haven unaffected by the turbulence and challenges of life. The storms here symbolize hardships, conflicts, and struggles. By desiring to be in a place untouched by storms, the speaker seeks a sanctuary of peace and emotional stability.
The phrase “Where the green swell is in the havens dumb” employs vivid imagery and personification. The “green swell” represents the gentle undulations of nature, suggesting a serene and harmonious environment. The phrase “in the havens dumb” attributes silence and stillness to the idealized realm, further emphasizing its tranquility.
The concluding line, “And out of the swing of the sea,” further develops the theme of seeking refuge. The “swing of the sea” represents the unpredictable and relentless nature of life’s challenges. By desiring to be out of this swing, the speaker longs to escape the unceasing turmoil and find a place of stability and peace.
The speaker in ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ is an individual who expresses a personal longing and desire for a serene and idealized existence, seeking refuge from the hardships and storms of life.
The tone in ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ is contemplative and yearning, as the speaker expresses a deep longing for a tranquil sanctuary, using emotive language and vivid imagery to convey their desires.
The mood of ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ is one of longing and wistfulness, evoking a sense of yearning for a peaceful and idyllic realm beyond the struggles of life.
The values represented in the poem include the pursuit of tranquility, spiritual transcendence, and the appreciation of beauty in nature.
The poem elicits emotions of longing, a sense of yearning for an idealized existence, a desire for solace, and a longing to be free from the storms and challenges of life.
The poem is titled ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ to convey the central themes of seeking a heavenly realm free from worldly hardships and turmoil and the transformative act of a nun taking a vow of devotion and dedication to a spiritual life.
Those who enjoyed ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil‘ should consider reading some other Gerard Manley Hopkins poems. For example:
- ‘Between the Breasts’ by E.E. Cummings – is a celebration of sensuality, desire, and the uninhibited pursuit of pleasure, using unconventional language and vivid imagery to evoke intense emotions and challenge traditional poetic norms.
- ‘A Far Cry from Africa’ by Derek Walcott – encapsulates the turbulent struggle between ancestral African roots and colonial influence, invoking introspection and cultural complexities within a powerful poetic narrative.
- ‘Anorexic’ by Eavan Boland – conveys the mindset of a woman determined to destroy her physical body through starvation and filled with hatred for her sinful past, according to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.