The May Magnificat Essay, Research Paper
The May Magnificat is a poem based on a question, a rhetorical question which Hopkins asks on why the month of may has been blessed as being the Virgin Mary?s month. He answers by describing how the month of may is so full of life and contains the pure vitality of Spring time, as well as the growth in everything which can be linked to the growth of the lord which was inside of her.
The poem has an extremely rigid structure. It comprises of twelve stanzas, of exactly four lines each. This seems rather long, but each line has been made very short by limiting the first two lines of each stanza to a total of four beats, whilst the last two lines are of only three beats each. The rhyming scheme is also rather tight, even though it is extremely simple in nature by consisting of: a, a, b, b. At first though all this structure and control found in the poem would seem to convert it into some menacing form, in order to incorporate and obey all the preset rules. However, this is not the case, when being read the poem seems to sound similar to a nursery rhyme, with a nice easy rhythm and nice flow to the words. This seems to stem from the very simple and easy rhyming structure, as well as the very short and simple beat structure to each line. One of the main messages that Hopkins portrays to us is the overwhelming controlling force of Mother Nature. This controlling force has been put into the poem structure itself so as to demonstrate how control does not necessarily ruin the flow and the way in which the words interact with each other. This is just like how the control that Mother Nature has does not ruin the beauty and splendour of the world.
The poem starts off with the question. In fact the first line is a statement that the month of may is Mary?s month, but yet he cant help wonder why, ?Muse at that and wonder why:?. There is no special event that lies in the month of may commemorating the month of may, there are other feasts that lie on different months yet they are still not considered the Lady?s month. The two examples he gives us of other celebrations are Candlemas, which is on the second of February and Lady Day, which is on the twenty fifth of March. But why call may the Lady month? Why not include a feasting in her honour during that month, such as those on February and March, ?But the Lady Month, May, / Why fasten that upon her, / With a feasting in her honour??. In the next stanza he wonders if it could be because the month of may is brighter that others. When he speaks of brightness he speaks of all the flowers in bloom with the huge variety of contrasts and colours, ?Is it only being brighter / Than the most are must delight her??.
Due to this great beauty in the month of may, Hopkins hypothetically asks Mother Nature of as to why this month is the Lady?s month, and he believes that she would answer that the season of Spring is growth in everything. The way in which Hopkins addresses Mother Nature as the ?mighty mother? reinforces the fact of how Mother Nature is so powerful and controlling. ?Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,? this is continuing from Mother Nature?s response of examples of things that are in growth during spring. Yet these examples also serve as alliteration in such way that the f?s create a sound that is similar to that of a light breeze. All this just adds to the fresh atmosphere of Springtime.
A Throstle is mentioned, which is modernly known as a Thrush, and described with great care so as to give the creature as much life as possible. For instance, he begins by using a fruit as a colour when saying that the bird was strawberry breasted. Hopkins also utilizes plants for his description of the eggs when saying that they were bugle blue, which is referring to the colour of the plant?s flower. It is interesting to see how he oddly uses nature to describe nature itself. He uses one form of life and vitality to describe another. But all this description is so that Hopkins can portray the image of a small bird and its nest with eggs in it in the middle of spring, an image of beauty. There is a description of the small blue eggs that ?warm? the life within, which is conectied to a stanza further on which deals with how Mary warmed and comforted Jesus whilst he was inside her.
Everything is growing, everything is getting bigger and Mary sees all this sympathises with it. She sympathises with nature because she too has seen the miracle of growth, the growth of the lord, just as we witness the growth of Nature, ?All things rising, all things sizing / Mary sees, sympathising / With that world of good, / Nature?s motherhood?. Hopkins consistently keeps writing of how everything is growing, or as it is said in the next stanza, how everything is magnified. ?Their magnifying of each its kind / With delight calls to mind how she did in her stored / Magnify the Lord?. He is speaking very generally here, like how the flowers are blooming, birds are growing etc. But of how it all seems to happily remind you and be connected in some way, with how Mary carried the lord until birth, how he grew inside of her and ?magnified? as it were.
But there is more to this, Hopkins states, there is just the sheer bliss of Spring which played a big part in offering Mary the month of may, ?Well but there was more than this: / Spring?s universal bliss / Much, had much to say / In offering Mary May?. The next two stanzas are could be just read as one, how orchards are covered with the spotted signs of flowers blooming and how little villages everywhere are happy and ?merry? in the springtime. All the lakes and wooden banks are so beautiful in the springtime, and the way the cuckoo bird will go about its business by steeling eggs and laying its own. It is all this that comes together to make for a perfect season, all adding to why the month of may is perfect for Mary. In: ?Caps, clears, and clinches all ? ? the ?c? sounds stand out very harshly, the words almost all help to put more emphasis on the word ?clinches?.
The final stanza is very different from the others, in that it finishes the poem on a very religious note. When Mary was waiting for Christ to be born, Mother Nature would be showing her all this beauty so as to remind her that God was her Salvation.