The Caged Skylark

By Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844–1889 Gerard Manley Hopkins
As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage,
    Man's mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells —
    That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life's age.
Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage
    Both sing sometímes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
    Yet both droop deadly sómetimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.

Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest —
Why, hear him, hear him babble & drop down to his nest,
    But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.

Man's spirit will be flesh-bound, when found at best,
But uncumberèd: meadow-down is not distressed
    For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bónes rísen.

Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

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Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844–1889

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Animals, Living, Religion, Nature

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Gerard  Manley Hopkins

Biography

Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the three or four greatest poets of the Victorian era. He is regarded by different readers as the greatest Victorian poet of religion, of nature, or of melancholy. However, because his style was so radically different from that of his contemporaries, his best poems were not accepted for publication during his lifetime, and his achievement was not fully recognized until after World War I.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Animals, Living, Religion, Nature

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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