Hopkins and ‘haeccitas’

…and in a nice instance of synchronicity, no sooner had I written the previous post than I came across Jeff Wainwright making exactly the same point, but with a rather lovely Latin word, in his book on Geoffrey Hill (Acceptable Words, Manchester University Press):

‘Just as Hopkins could not wholly accede to orthodoxy and school his eyes away from the intense “thisness”, haeccitas – in his own invented term, “inscape” – of the physical world, but sought the divine within it, so Hill’s own apprehensions of the individuated particularities of nature – “the despised / ragwort, luminous, standing out” [from The Orchards of Syon, XX) – form his own version of inscape which is an escape from dull determination’ (Wainwright, pp. 121-22).

I love the idea of the Jesuit poet trying to ‘school his eyes’ away from the natural world but, thankfully, being entirely unable to, ‘schooling’ his perceptions instead on the infinite variety and beauty of cloud-formations, sunsets, leaf-patterns and the like.

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