rest of Hopkins's verse, remained unpublished until long after his death. The poems found a ready audience in the years following the Great War, when they seemed more in tune with the spirit of modernism than with the world of Victorian Catholic piety that produced them. Hopkins's feeling both for God and for God in Nature are, however, informed by a strict theology and by an eye trained to observe natural detail by Ruskin. His linguistic daring and his radically distinct use of rhythm variously express an intensity of wonder and an agony of spiritual discomposure which lesser poets might have considered to be inexpressible.

American Christian poetry in the nineteenth century has little to match the doctrinal definition and the European, Catholic passion of Hopkins. If anything, the spirit of that poetry was defined by the individualist spirit of Protestant New England but it was also reflective of the insistently democratic spirit of the new republic and of the wide, wild, seemingly empty landscapes which lay beyond the cities of the eastern seaboard. Romanticism had, however, served to temper the predominantly Unitarian intellectualism of Boston in the 1830s, giving rise to the Transcendental movement which characterises so much of the art of the mid-century. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) proclaimed Nature 'the incarnation of thought' and declared of himself: 'I am nothing, I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God.' The liberal philosopho-theology which asserted that man was 'conscious of a universal soul within or behind his individual life' and which saw natural phenomena as the actuality of God would variously touch writers as diverse as Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), the Quaker John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92) and that quintessentially gnomic delineator of the scintilla of nature, Emily Dickinson (1830-86).

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