Carrion Comfort is a Petrarchan sonnet written by Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1885. It has been published posthumously in 1918 in the collection of Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
This poem is a part of his “terrible sonnets,” which is a collection of six sad and depressing poems which shows the frustration of the poet about spiritual indifference.
Carrion Comfort Summary
Carrion Comfort by Gerard Manley Hopkins starts with describes the intense despair of the narrator and the sadness he has been suffering.
The very first of the poem the narrator addresses the emotions of despair. While talking about the despair he affirms the positivity still left in him. He stands strong and determines not to give up.
He is energetic and enthusiastic to fight against depression. Later the narrator starts having questions about the reason behind the despair and why he has to suffer from it.
As the poem proceeds, In the second stanza, the plot and the tone of the narrator changes. The narrator begins by describing his depressing experiences differently.
He declares himself to be successful Since the lessons have made him more strength to fight back. Now he is positively motivated by the hardships he has suffered.
The narrator’s heart is now filled with positive energy and he approaches God for making him been through the pain.
Carrion Comfort Analysis
Carrion Comfort is a Petrarchan sonnet because it has two separated parts of the poem. The first part has eight lines, called the octet and the other part has six lines which is the sestet.
This is a typical style of structuring the Petrarchan sonnet. The poem also follows the rhyme scheme pattern of ABBA ABBA CDC DCD.
Gerard Manley Hopkins’s Carrion Comfort is one of the six poems of the series “terrible sonnets.” It is a collection of six poems about the depression of the poet.
The second quality to be a Petrarchan sonnet is the Volta or the twist. There is a turn occurs in between the octet and sestet just like any other Petrarchan sonnets. The Volta changes the plot setting and tone of the poem.
The poem Carrion Comfort starts with the sadness of the speaker and after the turn, it moves the central focus from the depression to the reasons behind it and his present situations.
Hopkins has formed his poems to directly connect with human speech, which is called the sprung rhythm. Thus in reference to the metrical pattern, there is no set visible progression to the rhythm.
The technique of sprung rhythm is created by Hopkins, himself. His poem does not follow the traditional pattern of iambic pentameter. Hopkins’s poems have a bunch of stressed syllables all along.
Carrion Comfort Versification
There are many important prosodies which have strong opposition setting up in its second quatrain. This is how Hopkins’s sonnets are different from any other sonnets. In Hopkins’s poetry, the traditional setting of the lines is missing.
Hopkins does not follow the regular pattern of the sonnet. Thus his sonnets contain broken lines and the lines has been set haphazardly.
An extended sonnet
The sonnet has been extended from pentameter to hexameter pattern. This has twelve syllables line which is called the alexandrine. Sometimes the lines have 13 lines also. The sentences have a quatrain structure. Thus it is much expanded to be a sonnet.
This sonnet has a bunch of stressed syllables in the first place. The syllables of this sonnet are most stressed.
Later the lines start with two back to back unstressed syllables. Here Hopkins does not follow his own sprung rhythm completely. In the next lines, he maintains the same rhythm.
Carrion Comfort Themes
Carrion Comfort” is all about the sadness and despair of the poet. It’s more kind of intense, dark and drastically despairing.
The narrator of the poem is in intense depression and he is going through hardships in finding out the reasons behind it. Although the narrator is depressed he does not gives up all his hopes.
Hopkins has written this sonnet while experiencing heartbreak in Dublin, Ireland. He suffers from a spiritual crisis. This leads him to his own identity crisis first and then it causes him death from serious typhoid fever.
Hence this sonnet is one of Hopkins’s “terrible sonnets”. Hopkins’s suffering is really sympathetic and achieves great pity from his readers.
Spirituality has been a major theme of Hopkins’s poetry. Hopkins has brilliantly incorporated this particular theme in his literary works. Since he was a priest, it was easier for him.
This sonnet is a part of his terrible sonnets and this raises a direct question towards God. Later the narrator receives all his answers through his realization that whatever God does, he does it for the wellbeing of humankind.
Despite being a priest poet, Hopkins was always in dilemma. He has tones of questions about religion and God to ask.
In this poem, the narrator suffers from a religious crisis. Later he develops his own identity crisis as an artist. But he keeps on practising his prayers through literature and his learnings.
Carrion Comfort shows up the determination of the narrator. The narrator is being optimistic in every situation.
While he suffers from spiritual crisis and depression, he never loses his hopes. Rather he looks for resolution. He asks for answers to his imaginary questions.
The narrator is a strong-headed person. He does not break down easily and he wishes to live. The willing for living shows the optimistic attitude of the narrator towards life.
Since the Narrator has made it through the despair, he determines to make himself better from his previous experiences. His experiences give him a push to improve himself.