Carrion Comfort

Carrion Comfort

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? Scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot trod
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

Summary of Carrion Comfort

  • Popularity of “Carrion Comfort”: Gerald Hopkins, a great Victorian poet, wrote “Carrion Comfort”. It is a superb literary piece famous on account of its theme of sadness. It was first published in 1918. The poem accounts for the inner conflict of the speaker. It also talks about his battle with despair, along with a decline in his faith in his creator, including the despair and its effects on mankind.
  • “Carrion Comfort” As a Representative of Sorrow: This poem is about the spiritual struggle of the speaker. The speaker declares that despair is not going to govern his life. He calls despair as “carrion comfort”. He determines that it is not going to take it on nerves. Instead, he would try his best to outlive the misery. Although he has endured a lot and there are only a few strands left in his life, yet he will try not to lose them. He hopes for the day when this anguish and depression will fade away in the light of hope and happiness. As the poem continues, he questions why God treats him so roughly. He is unable to understand God’s mystery of putting him in acute pain.
    The constant despair and suffering have caused him mental pains, while the speaker, being frantic, tries to make himself free from the distress. To console his shattered heart, he says that God has inflicted this pain upon him so that he may be purified and clean. This idea makes him change his mind toward despair. Instead of mourning upon the present pitiable situation, he regards his depression as a purifying punishment from God. Also, he realizes that he was not struggling with the crushing despair, but he was also fighting with God. Finally, he takes a wise decision to accept everything and get along in life.
  • Major Themes in “Carrion Comfort”: Acceptance, sufferings, and inner conflict are the significant themes underlined in this poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker describes his miserable life marred by a series of tragedies. Although he tries to survive the difficulties, inside, his wounded soul questions his never-ending endurance. The powerful force, despair has put him down and out. And the inner strands of his soul have also become weak, but he decides to resist this force. He further says that this giant force of despair is continually smashing him with its terrible power. All he wants is to seek refuge from this destructive despair. After cursing despair, he realizes that this force is not breaking him; instead, it is changing him into a pure self. He starts accepting this force as God’s will, and this acceptance makes him feel stronger and more joyful.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Carrion Comfort”

Literary devices are modes that represent writers’ ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices that the writers make their few words appealing to the readers.  Gerard Manley Hopkins has also used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been listed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /o/ in “In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can” and the sound of /ee/ in “Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /d/ in “Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling” and “With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd” and the sound of /h/ in “Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot trod”.
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God”, “In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can” and “Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, foot trod.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects and persons of different in nature. For example, in “Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee” the poet compares despair with “Carrion comfort”.
  3. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, the emotion of despair is personified by addressing it using “thou”.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Carrion Comfort”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The poet has used end rhyme in the poem. For example, “man/can”, “me/flee” and “rod/trod.”
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme.
  3. Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen-lined poem written in iambic pentameter. “Carrion Comfort” is a famous sonnet of the 19th century.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are helpful to use in speeches. These powerful words can help to restore the lost spirit of the people subjected to misery and pain.

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man.”