Gerard Manley Hopkins

(28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889 / Stratford, Essex)

Felix Randal


F{'e}lix R{'a}ndal the f{'a}rrier, O is he d{'e}ad then? my d{'u}ty all
{'e}nded,
Who have watched his mould of man, bigboned and hardy-handsome
Pining, pining, till time when reason rambled in it, and some
Fatal four disorders, fleshed there, all contended?
Sickness broke him. Impatient, he cursed at first, but mended
Being anointed |&| all; tho' a heavenlier heart began some
M{'o}nths {'e}arlier, since {'I} had our sw{'e}et repr{'i}eve |&|
r{'a}nsom
T{'e}ndered to him. {'A}h well, God r{'e}st him {'a}ll road {'e}ver he
off{'e}nded!

This s{'e}eing the s{'i}ck end{'e}ars them t{'o} us, us t{'o}o it
end{'e}ars.
My tongue had taught thee comfort, touch had quenched thy tears,
Thy tears that touched my heart, child, Felix, poor Felix Randal;
How far from then forethought of, all thy more boisterous years,
When thou at the random grim forge, powerful amidst peers
Didst fettle for the great grey drayhorse his bright |&| battering
sandal!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Andrew Hoellering (12/13/2009 3:51:00 AM)

    Presumably when Hopkins writes of his duty ending, it is his duty as a priest.
    Felix was initially broken by his ‘fatal four disorders, ’then reconciled by the ‘sweet reprieve and ransom’ afforded him by his belief in Christ.
    Clearly Hopkins was the catalyst for Felix’s sense of redemption. The third stanza is filled with compassion, which is felt as two-way. As with the aged, human frailty brings out the best in us, revealing us in turn at our most loveable and human.
    The last verse is a flashback to the farrier at the height of his powers, big and strong and bestriding the world like a colossus. The contrast allows us to understand that it is vulnerability that makes human beings heroic, not strength and dominance and power. (Report) Reply

  • Andrew Hoellering (12/13/2009 3:25:00 AM)

    It's not doing the poet or poem a service by setting out this unreadable way. Why not:

    Felix Randal the farrier, O he is dead then? my duty all ended,
    Who have watched his mould of man, big-boned and hardy-handsome
    Pining, pining, till time when reason rambled in it and some
    Fatal four disorders, fleshed there, all contended?

    Sickness broke him. Impatient he cursed at first, but mended
    Being anointed and all; though a heavenlier heart began some
    Months earlier, since I had our sweet reprieve and ransom
    Tendered to him. Ah well, God rest him all road ever he offended!

    This seeing the sick endears them to us, us too it endears.
    My tongue had taught thee comfort, touch had quenched thy tears,
    Thy tears that touched my heart, child, Felix, poor Felix Randal;

    How far from then forethought of, all thy more boisterous years,
    When thou at the random grim forge, powerful amidst peers,
    Didst fettle for the great grey drayhorse his bright and battering sandal! (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

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