The Reverend Gerard Manley Hopkins, c. 1870

He is likely to prove, for our time and the future, the only influential poet of the Victorian age, and he seems to me the greatest.” So F. R. Leavis concluded his groundbreaking chapter on Gerard Manley Hopkins in New Bearings in English Poetry (1932). Leavis proved his claim that “Hopkins belongs with Shakespeare, Donne, Eliot and the later Yeats as opposed to Spenser, Milton and Tennyson.” The accidents of publication history favored this ranking. Hopkins (1844–1889) became known only with the appearance, in 1918, of a selection of his poems edited by Robert Bridges, his principal correspondent and by...

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