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I Wake And Feel The Fell Of Dark, Not Day

Gerard Manley Hopkins

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The first line
Added by: Shirley Creed
When I studied this poem years ago I simply could not understand the meaning of "fell" in this context. I looked it up in dictionaries to no avail. The other day I got the answer. It means "a pelt" like an animals skin or fur. Now it makes sense! So I thought I'd share this for those who might have the same problem.
Stand-out poem...
Added by: Derek Henderson
One of seven "Dark" or "Terrible" sonnets, written in Dublin, Ireland. Of the seven, this is probably the one that Hopkins, in a letter to Robert Bridges, claimed to have been "written in blood." Interestingly, the only one of the seven (and one of the few post-Deutschland poems) that adheres to a strict iambic pentameter. This adherence locks the poem INTO a rigid structure, and shuts out both his generally joyous Sprung Rhythm and his adored God. One of the greatest (traditional) sonnets in the English language.
the first line
Added by: andrew johnson
Yes, one meaning of 'fell' is an animal hide or skin, however in this context it would seem more appropriate to read it as a form of 'fall' (from Old English, see the OED)- the 'fell' of day being daybreak, the 'fell' of dark, sunset, or vice-versa. An ambiguity is apparent in this reading - is it the end of the day or the beginning? It would also be interesting to consider the habit of monks and priests (like Hopkins) rising well before the sun to pray. It is often said that the early hours of the morning, just before sunrise, are the darkest, a time of despair and doubt.
Added by: fiona
I believe Hopkins intended for 'fell' to have several meanings.Darkness is like a wild animal whose 'fell' or hide the poet feels. Darkness is a landscape in whose 'fell' or mountainous region the poet wanders. Darkness is a mood whose 'fell' or cruelty and ruthlessness torments him. Darkness is a creature whose 'fell' or blow strikes the poet. All of these readings of the word 'fell' combine to heighten the impression of Hopkins' experience of darkness. Let me know what you think of this theory.
the first line
Added by: Beth
In my book, The Norton Anthology English Literature, there is a footnote that says that fell=bitteress.
Added by: Naomie Jean Louis
I thought that when he said I wake and feel the fell of dark that "fell" implied that he was consumed with the darkness,that the darkness was overpowering him ( like maybe he could feel the weight of the darkness)
Meaning of Feel
Added by: Drew
I agree with Beth. In the book "The Norton Anthology" (English Literature) it has fell listed as meaning bitterness. Looking at the fourth stanza you can see where this would fit in with the bitter feelings he expresses toward God.

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