Living by Faith, Not by Sight: The Literary Spiritual Journeys of Stephen Crane and Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Living by Faith, Not by Sight: The Literary Spiritual Journeys of Stephen Crane and Gerard Manley Hopkins
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2007 Josh Miller 2


TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............4 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION...............................................................................................................6 2 THE WAR BETWEEN NATURAL THEO LOGY AND NATURALISM, AND THE COMPLEXITY OF BIBLICAL NATURE.........................................................................9 3 THE HEAVENS STILL DECL ARE THE GLORY OF GOD........................................14 4 DIVERGENT PATHS: GOD IN THE HOR RORS OF NATURE AND THE HORROR OF A GOD-LESS NATURE.............................................................................................23 5 SOLA FIDES................................................................................................................... ..31 6 A NEW DIRECTION FOR FAITH..................................................................................38 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..40 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................42 3


Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts LIVING BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT: THE LITERARY SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS OF STEPHEN CRANE AND GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS By Josh Miller May 2007 Chair: Marsha Bryant Major: English In my thesis, I attempt to flesh out the spiritual trajectories encapsulated in the writings of two midto late-nineteenth century authors: Stephen Crane and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Although the two are usually perceived as having oppos ite reactions to the sp iritual crises of the nineteenth centuryHopkins is depicted as main taining a quasi-romantic vision of faith, while Crane is seen as abandoning relig ious belief altogethermy work shows the fallacies of such simplistic perceptions. By focusing on three diffe rent moments in the spirituality of their literaturethe presence of God in nature, Gods presence or absence in the midst of suffering, and having faith even when God cannot be seenI illustrate that the works of these two authors have more in common, spiritually speaking, than th eir critics suggest. Al ong with correcting this oversight in Crane and Hopkins criticism, my work also implies that the death of God in the midto late-nineteenth century West might be a hyperbolic statement, that many leading thinkers, like Crane and Hopkins continued to hold onto faith, which suggests that further study of midto late-ninetee nth century literature and thought is needed in order to better understand 4


the nature and pervasiveness of the spiritual turmoil that struck Britain and the United States at this time. 5


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Who or what created such a world? On the face of it, there seems to be only one answer to that question. We ourselves created ita nd it is hard to see on the face of ithard to see that what created us can have been anything more than some great cosmic upheaval, some slow, blind process as empty of meaning or purpose as a glacier. But by faithwe see exactly the same world and yet reach exactly the opposite answer, which is faiths answer.1 Frederick Buechner, Faith At first glance, Stephen Crane and Gerard Manley Hopkins seem like strange literary bedfellows. Although they composed their works around the same timeHopkins during the mid-to-late nineteenth century and Crane in the last decade of the 1900scriticism on the two suggests that their writings respond to the wo rld around them in markedly different, even antithetical manners. While schol ars depict Hopkins as a deeply religious poet, they often lump Crane into the naturalist/realist camp: The fo rmer sees Gods Grandeur in the world around him and exhibits profound faith in his verse; the la tter paints the natural world and life itself as it is: harsh, cruel, purposeless. Based on this crude sketch of their literary ca reers, it may seem stranger still to attempt to trace connections between the spiritual dimensions of their works. In fact, most of Cranes critics see the God-figure of hi s writings as a fake, a human creation generated to provide comfortalbeit false comfortdur ing times of duress (Westbrook 196). Others suggest that Cranes God is no phony but is instead an inner god, a conscience or spirit that resides in every human being, rather than a divinity (Gandal, Spiritual 508; Hoffman 67; Westbrook 196). Regardless of which interpretation one chooses neither resembles the God of Hopkins: a 1 The introductory quote comes from page 71 of Buechners book, Secrets in the Dark published by HarperSanFrancisco in 2006. 6


spiritual reality grounded in two millennia of Cat holic tradition who is certainly much larger and all-encompassing than any inner god could be. However, upon a close examination of their works, especially their poetry, Hopkins and Crane present the reader with notions of spirituality that bear more similarities than their critics would seem to suggest. They both, of course, par ticipate in the spiritual milieu of their time: a time in which Darwinism, higher biblical critic ism, and the rise of secular humanism, among other things, fostered doubt with in the religious realm. No on e would deny that their respective works respond to this spiritual crisis. What crit ics might object to is pr ecisely what this paper intends to argue: that the writings of Crane and Hopkins respond to this problem in similar ways. At times, both still cling to romantic notions and exalt in Gods presence in creation in an almost Wordsworthian fashion that resonates with the id eals of natural theology wh ich were still widely circulated in their time. Conve rsely, both writers also compose wo rks that seem more in tune with the thoughts of thei r more science-oriented naturalistic contemporarie s, works that lament Gods apparent absence in the natural realm. While Crane and Hopkins each treat this subject differently, they both appear to reach the sa me conclusion: nothing in the tangible world necessarily manifests God or point s towards his existence. Revela tions akin to this led many of the writers contemporaries to abandon God altogether; but for Hopkins and Crane, this knowledge leads them towards a different conclusi on, one that embodies the definition of faith more than any branch of romantic natural theology ever did or could. They profess a belief in a God that cannot be clearly seen in the natural world or proven to existbut is still there. Though Hopkins poetry articulates this faith more directly and with more certainty than Crane 7


does, each of their canons suggests that they both held onto (or struggled to hold onto) the hope that at the end of this life, God would appear an d, with his inscrutable wisdom, sort things out. Before attempting to illustrate this literary hypoth esis, I will touch briefly on the religious and areligious views of the natu ral world prevalent in the midto late-nineteenth century that seem to have had the greatest influence on both writers. Once this cultural context has been established, I will take us through the poetry and ot her relevant writings of these authors that illustrate the different journeys they both take from discovering God in the world around them to struggling to find an absentee God, which prompts them each to make different declarations of faith in a God who is rarely, if ever, seen or heard. 8


CHAPTER 2 THE WAR BETWEEN NATURAL THEO LOGY AND NATURALISM, AND THE COMPLEXITY OF BIBLICAL NATURE Of course, Crane and Hopkins were not alone in their spiritual str uggles. Many scholarly works on their time periodA.N. Wilsons Gods Funeral J. Hillis Millers The Disappearance of God James Turners Without God, without Creed to name a fewtestify to the prominence of such spiritual crises on both sides of the Atlantic in the nineteenth century.1 Part of the reason behind this eras fervent questio ning of God involves a paradigm shift from the Enlightenment mentality of the eighteenth century, in which ev erything was concrete and rationally discernable, to a worldview with more room for change and am biguity. Like all ideol ogical transitions, this shift did not occur in a uniform or systematic manner. As Gavin White notes, many people of the 1800s retained an eighteenthcentury mentality towards scien ce but had a nineteenth-century mentality towards religion, while others clung to the notion of an immutable religion that would be validated by ever-changing science (68). Th ese antithetical modes of thinking inevitably came to blows, their most famous bout being the debate between Adol phus Huxley and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce. Huxley championed the cause of science in such a way that he replaced the absolute of religion with science, arguing that th e latter provides its adhe rents with the clearest picture of reality, while the fo rmer obscures the truth (Levine 225). His opponent, Wilberforce, represented the other extreme; he upheld a static, concrete idea of religion and believed that all accurate science would fall in line with religious doctrine. In 1860, the two squared off in a public forum to discuss one of the hotte st topics of their day: Darwins theory of evolution. For those of Wilberforces persuasio n, Darwins ideas posed 1 Wilson and Miller treat the religious milieu in Britain, while Turner focuses on the United States. 9


a serious problem because they challenged a conc rete, literal interpreta tion of the biblical creation story. If species took centuries, possi bly millennia, to evolve from other simpler species, the creation of life on Earth obviously took more than th e seven days listed in chapter one of Genesis. Along with this hurdle to their faith, Darwins theory also subverted the brand of natural theology that Wilberforce and others who shared his eighteenth-century idea of religion professed. According to them, since God created the natural worl d, nature should reflect and reinforce religious truth. They would point to humankinds place in nature as an example: The Bible exalts humanity as both the pinnacle and the master of creation; therefore, all nature, in some way or another, functions for humankinds benefit. In their view, Darwins theory was incompatible with this and othe r tenets of natural theology. S ydney Ahlstrom aptly describes the impact they feared this conf lict between evolutiona ry thought and natural theology would have on the public when he writes that before Darwin, any Christian could look out of his kitche n window and behold a demonstration of Gods marvelous design. Sun and clouds, trees and gr ass, seeds, cows, dogs, and insectseven manurewere all harmoniously interacting fo r mans well being! But after Darwin, what did the backyard reveal but a relentless struggle for existence, a war of all against all, with blood dripping from every bough[?] (768) Wilberforce and like-minded individuals on both si des of the Atlantic would fight Darwins theory tooth-and-nail to prevent this de sacralizing of God s glorious creation. On the other side of the debate, Huxley worked hard to promote such desacralization. As a self-proclaimed agnostic, he insisted that no thing in creation, nothing in the natural world, pointed with certainty towards th e existence of a god; and he used Darwins theory to support his argument. Relying on Darwins suggestion that al l the organic beings whic h have ever lived on this earth have descended from one primordial form (Darwin 391), Huxley attacked biblical 10


doctrines of special creation, asse rting that Darwins theory provided a more accurate picture of how the natural world came into existence. Hu xley also believed Darwins theory of natural selection better explained the current state of na ture than a doctrine of Gods sovereign design. Instead of humans receiving dominion over nature from God, humans had fought to achieve this statusand had only obtained a te mporary victory. Their purpose if they, in fact, had one was to continue to win this battle of surviva l of the fittest by adaptation and innovation, not by adhering to supposedly divine co mmandments. Huxley and those who shared his view of a natural world with no clear purpose other than survival became kno wn as naturalists, a term that denoted their belief in a world where divi nity was both intangible and immaterial, if not nonexistent. This position as well as Wilberforces repr esent the two poles of nineteenth-century thought on Gods relationship with the natural realm. Most of their contemporaries fell somewhere in between these two extremes, incl uding the large number of people who believed that evolution and Christianity complimented each other. British scientist Aubrey Lackington Moore argued this point vociferously, declaring that Darwins theory was infinitely more Christian than the theory of special creation because [evolution] im plies the immanence of God in nature, while special creation suggests a Deistic understanding of the world in which a watchmaker God sets life in motion and then leaves it to its own devices (qtd. in Wilson 191). Such a view or something like it was evidently popular in England, sin ce the majority of its scientific community continued to hold onto religious beliefs af ter the publication of Darwin, seeing no formidable contradiction between their wo rk in the sciences and Christianity (189). Similar understandings of the compatibility of evol utionary theory and religion also surfaced in 11


the United States, where scientists like Asa Gray and academics like Princeton President James McCosh proposed that Darwins theory fit we ll with Christian theology (Ahlstrom 769). By suggesting with Moore that God co uld be seen in nature through th e lens of Darwins work, they and their British counterparts br ought a third voice to the Wilberfo rce-Huxley debate, leaving the populations of America and Englan d divided over these three disc ordant understandings of the relationshipor lack thereofbe tween God and the natural world. Considered in light of the two nations dominan t sacred text, the Bibl e, this diversity of opinion on Gods involvement with the world is not too surprising. Though the Bible does assert contra Huxley that God created the natural world, its descript ion of Gods relationship with nature post-creation is complex at best, and at worst, obscure. On one hand, the creation story in Genesis 1 affirms that all living things were cr eated good; the Psalms re peatedly assert that God manifests himself through natu re; and the Gospel of Matthew encourages believers to cast their cares onto God by examining how God sustai ns the natural world, how he provides for the flowers and the birds. These passages depict crea tion as a reflection of it s Creator, and a Creator who remains intimately and benevol ently involved with his creation. On the other hand, the Fall in Genesis 3 leaves humanity and the earth cu rsed by God; the book of Job shows natures indifference to the suffering of its righteous prota gonist; and the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, observes that nature is bound to decay and groans for redemption. In each of these examples, the natural world appears broken, defunc t, its Creator vindictive or distant. This multifaceted, seemingly irreconcilable presentation of Gods relationship with nature allowed for multiple interpretations of this relationship prio r to the publication of Darwin; but it was in the aftermath of Darwins theory, wh en assessing the interactions between divinity and the natural 12


realm became vogue, that Christians and non-Christ ians took advantage of this aspect of the biblical text and generated a veritable philosophical explosi on of opinions on the subjecta subject Hopkins and Crane grapple w ith repeatedly in their work. 13


CHAPTER 3 THE HEAVENS STILL DECL ARE THE GLORY OF GOD As I mentioned in my introduction, most critic s interpret Cranes trea tment of this topic in a facile, straightforward manner. They usuall y associate him with the naturalist movement in literature, which, as its name implies, strove to de scribe the world as accura tely as possible. In this sense, the work of naturalist writers resembles that of the realists, except that the former generally contains a more pessimistic, deterministic vision of the natural world (Pizer 9). Those categorized as naturalists often depict nature as cruel, unforgi ving, aloof to human concerns. Many of Cranes writings exhibit these natura list tendencies. The Open Boat, for example, presents the reader with what E.R. Hagemann describes as an indifferent but everwatchful Nature (77) that doe s not regard [man] as important andfeels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him (Crane 902). According to Chi Yuan-wen, this understanding of nature also predominat es Cranes best-known work, The Red Badge of Courage In this novel, Chi argues, Cranes protagonist, Henry Flem ing, learns through his trials on the battlefield that the world around him is far from his original romantic ideal, but must be taken as it is, which includes acknowledging its aloofness to human concerns (13, 15). While both Chis and Hagemanns readings do justice to the content of the works they interpret, assuming that these two stories and Cran es other writings on the darker side of nature comprise the whole of his thought would neglec t the rarebut nevertheless presentmoments in his canon when he portrays natu re as a source of revelation. Clarence Johnson is one of the few critics to touch on this aspect of Cranes wr iting. In his essay, Mr. Binks Read Emerson: Stephen Crane and Emersons Nature, Johnson repeatedly notes how Cr anes short story, Mr. Binks Day Off, appeals to the universal relig ion of nature by highlig hting the redemptive 14


qualities of the natural world (107). Indeed, the st ory lends itself to such a reading. The tale of the Binkses begins in the city, where each member of the family is at the others throats. Binks and his wife, hostile as warri ng redskins, spend their entire dinner complaining and insulting each other, while their two older children sit quie tly in fear of their fathers temper and their baby weeps because his mother, in her frenzied state, ha[s] yanked him and hurt his neck as she tried to put on his bib (Crane 559). Once the family leaves their urban home fo r a vacation to the country, they undergo an almost immediate transformation. As the Binkses feel the fresh quality of the country st[eal] over them and cool[] their nerves (560), both Mr. a nd Mrs. Binks find themselves able to relax. Their children, who had been overwhelmed by the te nsion of city life as well, also experience relief; they run, climb and play, unabashedly enjo ying the brooks and trees around them. In this new place, the family members finally begin to treat each other with kindness, each of them personally exhibiting the peacefulness of their natural surroundings. Not only does the setting change their behavior; it also creates a spiritual experience for the elder Binkses. After being pacified by the song of the unive rsal religion, the mighty and mystic hymn of nature (562) that comes from their new surroundings, Mr. and Mrs. Binks enter into a state of receptivity, in which the couple listen atten tively to the song the wind makes as it blows through the trees. This music convicts them of their own mortality in a Thanatopsis-like sense: they obtain the dual sense of deaths inevitability and the need to li ve life to the fullest that, according to William Cullen Bryants poem, nature communicates to it s listeners. Having heard this message, Mr. and Mrs. Binks leave this natural scene chastened and purified (566)words that suggest they have experienced some sort of spiritual and/or moral cleansing. Though, as Johnson indicates, 15


this moment does not necessarily suggest a pe rmanent transformation of the Binks family (108)the story repeatedly hints at their deep entrenchment in city life and values as well as their inability to actively engage with nature (it is always acting upon them)it does present a picture of a natural world full of redemptive, h ealing qualities, a world that points towards the divine. This tale is not the only seemingly un-Cran ean rendering of nature in Cranes canon. A similar redemptive picture of nature also appe ars in a poem from his second published volume of poetry, War Is Kind : Each small gleam was a voice A lantern voice In little songs of carmine, violet, green, gold. A chorus of colors came over the water; The wondrous leaf-shadow no longer wavered, No pines crooned on the hills The blue night was elsewhere a silence When the chorus of colors came over the water, Little songs of carmine, violet, green, gold. Small glowing pebbles Thrown on the dark plane of evening Sing good ballads of God And eternity, with souls rest. Little priests, little holy fathers None can doubt the truth of your hymning When the marvelous chorus comes over the water Songs of carmine, violet, green, gold. (Crane 1337) The critic responsible for the most thorough study of Cranes poe try, Daniel Hoffman, asserts matter-of-factly that The point [of this poem] of c ourse is that even this marvelous chorus fails to appease mans doubt (88); but there seems to be little eviden ce in the poem itself for this interpretation. Instead, Hoffman appears to be reading this poem through the lens of Cranes works that treat nature less favor ablya fact he proves by followi ng his interpretation with the 16


line, In contrast to this sacramentalizing of Na ture, Crane elsewhere regards it as a force which at fateful time reveals grim hatred for man ( 88). As our analysis of Mr. Binks Day Off has shown, Crane clearly does not always treat natu re as an oppositional force. When he does, he usually does so with the utmost tr ansparency, such as in poem XXVI of Black Riders where Cranes speaker spends days climbing a might y hill and, upon reaching its summit, only sees gardens / Lying at impossible distances (1307), or poem XLIX, in which the speaker looks to nature to determine where to direct [his] feet , but finds nothing there to guide him (1316). In this poem from War Is Kind on the other hand, Cranes persona actually does discover God in nature. Upon seeing the small gleams on th e water, the speaker te stifies to hearing a lantern voice, suggesting that he has experienced some sort of illumination, which implies an alleviation of doubt. Such an interpretation finds further support in the li nes that follow: the wondrous leaf-shadow that no longer waver[s] points not only to the physical cessation of the leafs wavering, but also rela tes to the dissipation of the speakers own spiritual and/or intellectual wavering that the illuminating voice of the sma ll gleams has brought to an end. The sad croon[ing] of the pines also stops because the gleams have provided cause for hope, for rejoicing. And the blue night, which is elsewhere a silence (my emphasis ) is no silence here. Here one has the song of the small gleams, the lantern of illumination that cuts through the silence of the nighta silence that tends to foster doubt. Thus, when Crane, in his second stanza, writes, None can doubt the truth of your [(the gleams )] hymning, he seems to be perfectly serious. He is, at leas t in this moment, in tune with natural theology, declaring that the ballads sung by these gleams are of God. Like the countrysides universal hymn in Mr. 17


Binks Day Off, these bits of na ture testify to something greater than themselves, something Crane places in the realm of divinity. * In both of these works of literature, we cat ch small gleams of a Stephen Crane critics often overlooka writer who, from time to time, appears to find God in the world around him. However, when we turn our attention to critici sm of Hopkins, we encounter an opposite sort of overlooking: scholars tend to over lookthat is, focus the majority of their attention on Hopkins presentation of Gods immanence in nature. In fact, in an article tellingly titled What Can I Do but Enumerate Old Themes? R.K.R. Thornton argues that all of Hopkins poetry revolves around one main idea: the world is an expression of Ch rist (33). By this, Thornton does not mean that everything in Hopkins poetry at all times expr esses Christ; he is well aware that the authors verse includes moments in whic h Christs presence in the world is denied or obscured or withdrawn (33). However, Thornton argues th at in Hopkins poetry, these moments are carefully guarded against or stren uously fought, while seeing Christ in nature serves as the goal one must always work towards (33). Like most critics who take this stance on Hopkins poetry, Thornton uses the poem As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame as the example par excellence of their point. Indeed, a close examination of the poem rev eals the interrelationship between God and the natural world commonly associated with Hopkins verse. The poem begins with a brief catalogue of three items in natu rekingfishers, dragonflies, and stonesand a brief description of what they do: As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring (Hopkins, Poetical Works 141) 18


In each instance, these objects display their uniqueness; they sound out their name[s] like the ringing of a bell (141). Yet in sp ite of the differences between th em, Hopkins asserts in line five, Each mortal thing does one thing and the same. At first glance, such statements seem irr econcilable. How can each natural object do something particular to itself and yet still some how do the exact same thing? To answer this question, one must turn to Hopkins theories on the interconnectedne ss among nature, language, and the originary wordChrist, the Logos. For H opkins, Christ as Word functions as the source of all things in the natural a nd linguistic realms. He makes th is point clear in his sermons, stating, GOD, in vocalising his NAME said , a nd with the Word, all worlds and animations sprang co-instantaneously to bei ng & life from their non-existence ( Sermons 354). In this instance, God, language and nature are all bound togeth er in this originary act, in which the latter two emanate from the former. This quotation illumines the ties among the three. It does not, however, discuss how such interconnectedness relates to the diversity in nature that appears at the beginning of the kingfishers poem. To address this issue, one must, yet again, delv e into Hopkins prose, particularly those sections that deal with his concepts of insc ape and instress. Unfortunately, Hopkins never fully explains these terms and ap pears to use them rather spontaneously, which leaves his critics with the task of piecing togeth er their definitions from his letters and journal entries. Most of them agree th at, broadly speaking, inscape refers to the pattern(s ) that natural objects have in common, while instress describes th e individual essence of a natural object. Yet if one looks closely at his scat tered writings on these terms, the two words appear to be more ambiguous and more interrelated than this interpretation allows. In fact, one of Hopkins most 19


famous references to inscape actually suggest s the term indicates bot h interconnectedness and individuality: But as air, mel ody, is what strikes me most of a ll in music and design in painting, so design, pattern or what I am in the habit of calling inscape is what I above all aim at in poetry. Now it is the virtue of design, pattern, or inscape to be distinctive (Hopkins, Letters 66). Here, Hopkins connects the patter ns, or inscapes, of music, painting, and poetry; but at the same time, he asserts that these inscapes ar e distinctive, particul ar. Such a double-sided understanding of inscape pe rsists throughout his prose,1 which leads J. Hillis Miller to rightly conclude that while Hopkins uses inscape to emphasize the uniqueness of each object, he also employs it to point out that which a number of particular s have in common (282). Instress also seems to possess this double m eaning. On one hand, Hopkins uses the term in a way that makes it appear to be a particulari zed trait. For example, in another letter to Bridges, Hopkins describes the poetry of a wr iter named Barnes as having a Westcountry instress, a most peculiar product of England ( Letters 88, my emphasis) that distinguishes him from other poets. On the other hand, Hopkins also writes that this instress connects Barnes poetry to airs like Weeping Winefred, Polly Oliver, or Poor Mary Ann (88) In this instance, the three share an instress that gives them both distinctiveness (they differ from the typical poems of England) and common ground. Based on these two-sided, seemingly para doxical understandings of inscape and instresstwo words that appear to represent one thing and the sameone can begin to see 1 See Ren Gallets Defining Hopkinss Notions and Perspective in Gerard Manley Hopkins and Critical Discourse for a more thorough treatment of Hopkins understanding of inscape and instress. Though Gallet argue s that Hopkins uses these term s with relative consistency, his essay also notes multiple instances when inscape and instress are employed in ways that go against his argument, and often dismisses such instances quickly without giving them adequate attention. 20


how Hopkins can portray kingfishers, dragonflies a nd stones doing three separa te things, yet still claim that they all do the same thing. Each of these particular objects ha s its particular inscape and instress; but each different inscape and instress always connects an object with that of every other object. If one integrates this understanding of inst ress and inscape with the aforementioned idea that all things stem from Christ the Word, one can also grasp why critic s who treat Hopkins as a bard of natural revelation use this poem as a cornerstone for their interpretation of his verse. If the Word is, indeed, the source of all things, then both inscape and instress come from Christ. As a result, anytime anything exhibits its particular inscape or instress, it always does one thing and the same: incarnates the Word himself. Thus, as Jude Ni xon concludes, Things are most like Christ only when, paradoxically, they are th eir fullest selves and chime univocally (105), for in this moment, they exhibit the paradoxical unity and individuality of all instress and inscape, the very mystery of Christ that, H opkins writes, mst be instrssed, stressed ( Poetical Works 120). The same can be said of humans who expre ss their fullest selves through their different yet interconnected inscapes and instresses. The just man justices, Hopkins writes in the second stanza of his poem ( Poetical Works 141), because, as Jacques Derrida notes, God and man, both are just ones (693); in other wo rds, humans will instress God s justice via th eir particular instresses and inscapes as long as they tap into their God-given instress/inscape. Human beings can also keep[] grce (Hopkins, Poetical Works 141) in an incarnational way, provided that they operate out of the fullness of their bei ng. In this sense, though each persons individual expression of Gods grace and justice will vary because, as Hopkins writes, the way [humans] 21


judgeis determined for each by his[/her] own inscape ( Journals 129), all peopleif they are truly being their fullest selveswill ct[] in Go ds eye what in Gods eye [s/]he is / Chrst (141). Consequently, both human beings and othe r elements in nature in the kingfishers poem manifest Gods presence in the world, indicati ng that Hopkinsat least at this point in his writingsees God as a very immanent being, communicating continuously with the world through the world itself. This theme also dominates another one of Hopkins well known nature poems, Pied Beauty. In this work, God functions as a pair of bookends, appearing in the first and last lines. Such a structure implies that the content in betw een originates from and also points back to the divine, the God of the poems beginning and end. Not surprisingly, the middle stanzas contain a breadth of diverse examples from nature: skies; birds wings; tracts of land; even red spots on trout. Once again, the diversity w ithin nature seems to be impor tant to Hopkins: by labeling each of these elements as counter, original, spre, strnge ( Poetical Works 144), he stresses the importance of their uniqueness, their particular in scape and instress. But at the same time, he notes that all these things are father[ed]-forth (144) by God and, as a result, have interconnected inscapes and instre sses that inevitably Prise hm (144) through their diverse expressions of his instress and inscape. In this process, by simply being what they are, each of these natural elements not only praise God, but re flect, in some way, the beauty that is pst chnge (144) that their creator possesses. Like th e little gleams of Cranes poem, these bits of nature, along with the world of the kingfishers poem, provide their viewers with reasons to believe; they participate in the song of the unive rsal religion heard by th e Binkses that offers spiritual sustenance to all who listen to its melody. 22


CHAPTER 4 DIVERGENT PATHS: GOD IN THE HORRORS OF NATURE AND THE HORROR OF A GOD-LESS NATURE Of course, neither Hopkins nor Crane ma intains such a positive view of nature throughout their respective canons. Both are well-attuned to the da rker side of naturenot just because of the cold, calloused depiction of natu re stemming from the naturalist thought of their times, but because, as mentioned above, the Christ ian scriptures they were both raised on speak of the bleakness of the natural wo rld as well. Along with this cultural and biblical knowledge, both authors also share an awareness of how natu res destructive forces continue to manifest themselves in the world around them. For Crane, much of this awareness stems from personal experience, including his perilous journey in a lifeboat on the open s eas between Cuba and Florida, which led to his meditations on natures relationship to God in The Open Boat and certainly influenced his writings on the subject thereafte r. Hopkins, on the other hand, tends to engage with natures harshness vi cariously. Ironically, he, too, often turns to shipwrecks to examine this theme, The Wreck of the Deutschla nd being the most famous of his inquiries into this topic. Despite this similarity between their visions of natures carnage and parallels between their religious upbringing and cultural milieu, the two authors take markedly different approaches to dealing theologically with the darker side of the na tural world. At this point, the stereotypical Crane of the critics surfaces, the Cr ane who repeatedly has his characters in The Open Boat ask, in the throes of their crisis, If I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? His characters never receive a response to this question, whic h leads them to believe that 23


nature does not regard [them] as important (C rane 902). This perceived indifference makes them wish[] to throw bricks at the temple ( 902)a phrase which suggests that their anger not only involves nature but extends to the religious sphere, to some sort of deity. Like their previously mentioned question, thei r rage evokes little response: A high cold star on a winters night (902) is all that natureand, based on the earlier allusion to a temple, Godgives them. Neither ministers to the boats passe ngers; both remain aloof, silent. Crane touches on this vision of nature and G od more directly in a poem believed to have been written around the same time as The Open Bo at, A man adrift on a slim spar. In this poem, Crane shifts from discussing a distant star with implicit re ligious connotations to directly addressing a distant God. While the poem itself is driven by the narra tive of a man slowly drowning, its theme appears in it s chant-like refrain, repeated three times throughout the poem: God is cold. Tented waves with their lashy dark point s surround the helpless man; yet God is cold. The incessant raise and swing of the sea en velop the man to the waist; yet God is cold. The man loses his grip, his ha nd sliding from [the] polis hed spar; yet God is cold. Finally, the sea overtakes the man completely; and once ag ain, God is cold (1348 49)like the cold, aloof star of T he Open Boat, he does nothing to stop or hinder this process. Not only does Crane harp on this seeming indifferen ce textually; he also illustrates it formally by aligning his God is cold refrain to the right margin while the rest of the text is flush with the left side of the page. This formal technique s uggests that God has no conn ection to, or at least no interaction with, the natural elements that dr own the man. Even though the third stanza states that The seas are in the hollow of The Hand; Oceans may be turned to a spray 24


Raining down through the stars Because of a gesture of p ity toward a babe (1348) the events of the poem render this statement of faith meaningless. God does nothing; and his inactivity points to something that, according to Ke ith Gandal, Crane fears to be true: that in the natural world, God is absent or at least uninterested (Mystic 111). This fear also surfaces in poems prior to The Open Boat and A man adrift, most notably in poem VI of Cranes Black Riders Crane begins the poem w ith lines that resonate with natural theologys argument of designthat the intricate deta il and orderly nature of the universe suggest that all things stem from an all-powerful divi ne creatorand appears to be on its way to affirming some form of romantic panentheism: God fashioned the ship of the world carefully. With the infinite skill of an all-master Made He the hull and the sails, Held He the rudder Ready for adjustment. (Crane 1300) At this point in the poem, God is actively involv ed and present in the wo rld; he stands at the rudder of his creation, ready to guide it, interact with it. If God remained in this pos ition, one could reasonably infer that the natural worldlike the world of Each small gleam and the countrysi de of the Binkses day offwould reflect his character. However, in the next few lines, the poem and God both take a turn that eliminates this possibility: Thenat fateful timea wrong calle d, / And God turned, h eeding (1300). After this brief, two-line recap of what appears to be something akin to the Fall, God does not simply punish his disobedient creation; he abandons it, ne ver turns back. As a re sult, the natural world goes on forever rudderless, Going ridiculous voyages, Making quaint progress, 25


Turning as with serious purpose Before stupid winds. (1300) Unlike the small gleams, the stupid winds that propel the ship of the world lack Gods presence. The seas the ship floats on, like the seas in The Open Boat and A man adrift on a slim spar, also have no trace of the divine. Now that God has turned, now that God is cold, nature has become a spiritual wasteland. In light of this bleak view of Gods relati onshipor, rather, lack of a relationshipwith nature, Crane leaves humanity little hope of finding God or any pur pose in the world around them. This representation of the natural world ha s led critics such as Gandal and Huang Jiaxiu to the conclusion that, for Crane, emulating the heart-eating creature of his third poem in Black Riders is the best thing one can do be cause eat[ing] his own bitter heartis the only meaningful thing to do in this barren, empty world (Hua ng 134). But how meaningf ul is this? If all meaning is bitter and can only be obtained th rough an act of self-cannibalism and destruction, then even this hope, if one can call it that, se ems miniscule. Instead of inspiring faith or providing purpose, this poem seems to capture th e horror of a god-less world, where all of ones prospects in the natural realm especially the prospect of finding God thereare very, very bleak. * Hopkins, on the other hand, is able to find God in the midst of the latters coldness. In fact, Hopkins will go so far as to argue that in these moments of coldness, when nature itself seems destructive and harsh, Gods redemptive power manifests itself through the elements. His clearest and most famous treatmen t of this theme occurs in The Wreck of the Deutschland. As Varghese Mathai notes, the tale of the actual shipwreck behind this poem restarts Hopkins 26


poetic career (137)something it accomplishes prim arily by bringing certain religious and doctrinal implications to H opkins attention (Norman White 250), including the notion that natures harshness provided spiritual sustenan ce for those who drowned in the wreck. Expanding on this idea, Hopkins goes on to sugg est that such harshness plays a part in the redemption of the general public, and, in The Wreck, uses himself as an example: I did say yes O at lghtning and lshed rd; Thou heardst me, truer than tongue, confess Thy terror, O Christ, O God. (Hopkins, Poetical Works 119) Here, the natural image of lightni ng, paired with the image of a whip, conjures up a sense of natures frightening power, which st rikes terror into Hopkins. It is this fear created by natural forces that leads him to confess, that inspir es him to take on the fa ith that will, as he understands it, allow him to obt ain ultimate redemption. While one could argue that H opkins refers to lightning meta phorically in these lines, stanzas five and six support a mo re literal reading of this image by clearly articulating that the terrible side of nature has a revelato ry, beneficial function in the world: 5 I kiss my hand To the stars, lovely-asunder Starlight, wafting him out of it; and Glow, glory in thunder; Kiss my hand to the dappled-with-damson west: Since, thugh he is nder the wrlds splndour and wonder, His mstery mst be instrssed, stressed; For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand. 6 Not out of his bliss Springs the stress felt 27


Nor first from heaven (and few know this) Swings the stroke dealt Stroke and a stress that stars and storms deliver, That guilt is hushed by, hearts are flushed by and melt (120) In these lines, Hopkins points to a God found in both the beautiful and the destructive aspects of nature. By asserting through the parallelism of lines five and six of stanza six that storms cause human hearts to melt, Hopkins suggests that, like the lightning involved in his own conversion, these destructive forces of na ture can drive humans to find God and, through God, a redemption much greater than any suffering they may have expe rienced at the hands of natures harshness. Such an understanding of natures destructive elements allows Hopkins to present God through beautiful stars instead of something akin to the cold, unkind star of Cranes Open Boat. Since even the seeming cruelty of nature participates in Gods mercy, the stars of The Wreck have no reason to appear aloof or indifferent. Instea d, along with the storms, they testify to Gods mercy, albeit in a different way: through their beau ty, they lessen humanitys feelings of guilt. After briefly describing this two-sided picture of natures manifestation of God, Hopkins moves on to the second section of his poem, the depiction of what he describes as the happy memory of the drowning nuns (119), in which he gives more attention to the idea that the harshness of nature has spiritually redemptive quali ties. He addresses th e potential happiness of the Deutschlands wreck in the second stanza of this section, stanza twelve, in which he asks a question about their drowning that, as the poe m progresses, proves to be rhetorical: did the dark side of the bay of thy blessing / Not vault th em, the million of rounds of thy mercy not reeve even them in? (122) These lines suggest what Hopkins has prepared us for in his first section and will say more explicitly in la ter stanzas: that this drowning wa s a blessing, this experience of natures destructive power was actu ally an exhibition of Gods mercy. 28


Of course, Hopkins realizes that, to mo st people (Crane included), this positive interpretation of such a calamit ous experience would ring false. In fact, he acknowledges this earlier in his poem, right afte r the discussion, quoted above, of Gods redemptive power in the midst of a storms destruction. Such a no tion, that God works fo r humankinds good through natures terrors, does, in Hopkins opinion, cause the faithful [to] waver, the faithless [to] fable and miss (120). To understand how God can do something that seems so paradoxical, Hopkins insists that his readers must try to look at th e situation from what Mi ke Fitzhugh describes as the eternal perspective (82). While Fitzhugh and Hopkins both know that the wreck and the natural events that caused it appear terrible by human standards (Fitzhugh 82), the former observes that, in stanza twenty-one, the latter tries to downplay human perceptions of the Deutschlands fate by orienting hi s audience to Christs point-ofview. Instead of seeing the wreck as a catastrophe, Hopkins pr esents the storm flakes that caused it as scroll-leaved flowers and lily showers that usher the nuns to heaven (Hopkins, Poetical Works 124), their true home (Fitzhugh 82). Thus, what appears to be the horrible face of natures wrath remains, in reality, the good face of God. Not only does Hopkins present this idea of nature as his personas view; his poems heroine, the tall nun, also finds God in the destru ctive forces of nature. As the waves and the storm throw her about and drag her under the tide, she looks at that weather and sees one thing, one; / Has one fetch in her (Hopkins, Poetical Works 124): Christ. According to Hopkins, her insight into this tr uth provokes her cry to her mast er, her infamous O Christ, Christ, come quickly (124). Though Hopkins init ially puzzles over what her exclamation 29


means, by stanza twenty-nine, he has reached hi s conclusion. Referring to the nun, he describes her with the following words: Ah! thre was a hart right! There was single eye! Rad the unshpable shck nght And knew the who and the why (126) This is why she calls to Chris t; she knows he is the who be hind and within the unshpable shck nght of her drowning, and that even in th is moment of devastat ion, his presence remains within the destructive elements th at nature heaps upon her, for they will ultimately lead to the why: her redemption. This is what allows her and Hopkins to christen[] her wild-worst Best (125), for in this moment, they both find the BestChristat work. Based on this understanding of the wreck, Hopkins gives his readers a completely different vision of Gods relati onship to natural catastrophes th an Cranes overtly pessimistic view. While Crane finds God cold and absent in the midst of natures horrors, Hopkins presents suffering natural hardships as f[i]ght[ing] with Gods cold (123), a cold that is still infused with the presence of God and has positive, redemptive qualities. Unlike the man adrift on a slim spar who is swallowed up by an indifferent s ea, Hopkins nuns Are ssterly saled in wld wters, / To bathe in [Gods] fall-gold mercies, to breathe in his all-fire glances (125). His vision of nature in The Wreck presents an alternative to Cranes, a differentthough not necessarily more accuratepath th at gives his readers a way of finding God in the midst of natures horror, instead of leav ing them in the position of Crane s readers, horrified by Gods absence, with nothing to do but eat their own hearts as a consolation. 30


CHAPTER 5 SOLA FIDES Hopkins assertion of Gods presence in both natures grandeur and fury does not, however, persist throughout hi s entire poetic career. During the mid-to-late 1880s, he experiences what some critics refer to as a d ark night of the soul a time of spiritual & emotional drynessthat leads to the composition of his Terrible Sonnets: poems that testify to the emptiness and desolation he feels. Unlike his paeans to natures incarnational qualities like Pied Beauty or his hopeful mediation on Gods pr esence in the destructive power of nature in The Wreck, these poems possess a much bleaker vision of the world. Instead of finding hope and, concomitantly, God, in natures beauty or power, Hopkins finds little to hope for in this world, going so far as to sugge st in No worst, there is none that humanitys greatest consolation lies in the fact that all / Life death does end & e ach day dies with sleep (182). In the midst of composing these somber sonnets, Hopkins also writes a poem that indicates a change in his unders tanding of Gods rela tionship with nature, entitled, To what serves Mortal Beauty? Given the dark content of the poems that surround it chronologically, this question seems markedly poignant. If nature cannot bring the joy of the incarnation that it brought in the bliss of Kingfishers or the fury of The Wreck, then what can it do? What purpose does it serve? Hopkins in itial response to this question in To what serves Mortal Beauty? is that it can be dangerous: it can get ones blood dancing in ways that promote vanity, leave one gawking at the O-seal-that-so | face of oneself or others, which stirs up more pride than a Purcell tune lets tread to (182). In this instance, natura l beauty becomes a snare rather than a beacon, a cage rather than a door in to Gods grandeur. Inst ead of manifesting the divine, it becomes a petty and consuming distraction. 31


However, in spite of these early lines, Hopki ns does not completely abandon his vision of a God-breathed, redemptive natura l world in this poem. Immedi ately after noting the potential hazards of mortal beauty, he asserts that it can help people discern what good means and that it encourages people to love one another (183). As a result, hi s poem gives the reader a doublesided picture of the natural world. On the one hand, its beauty can inspire goodness in people, encouraging them to exhibit the qualities of its divine creator. On the other hand, its grandeur can also lead to an unhealthy infa tuation with the world and/or w ith oneself, an infatuation that distracts one from God and is self-absorbed. In light of these two sides of nature, Hopkins naturally asks, What do then? how meet beauty? (183) In Kin gfishers, Pied Beauty, and The Wreck, the answer to this question would have been to greet this natural beauty as Christ. Here, however, Hopkins instructs his readers to [m]erely meet it, glean whatever go od can be found in heavens sweet gift, then let [it] alone, because too much absorption of this worlds beauty will hinder one from discovering Gods better beauty, grace (183). This new understanding of nature drastically changes its status in relationshi p to the divine. What was once a locus for Gods presence has, for Hopkins, now become what Paul Mariani describes as a mere pointer toward Gods better beauty (256)that is, if one can discern when the natural world actually points toward God versus when it evokes a persons vanity. In a later poem, That Nature is a Her aclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection, Hopkins takes this devaluing of natu res revelatory power a step further. Instead of being a possible window through which one ca n spy Gods presence, as it is in To what serves Mortal Beauty?, this poem describes nature in accordance with the views of the ancient 32


Greek philosopher, Heraclitus: it is a fire in which all things are in a state of flux and strife is a fundamental law of being (MacKenzie 493). Th e poem begins with a ra ther pristine depiction of nature, something one would expect from Hopkin s earlier works: Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows | flaunt forth, then chevy on an ai r/ Built thoroughfare: h eaven-roysterers, in gaygangs | they throng; they glitter in marches (Hopkins, Poetical Works 197). However, as the poem progresses, the reader learns that this state of na tural beauty is not p ied, nor long-lasting. A few lines later, another natural element, the bright wind enters and ropes, wrestles, [and] beats earth bare, obliterating the beautiful clouds and leaving an unappealing, squandering ooze of mud in its wake (198). In this instance, nature exhibits its He raclitean strife, turning against itselfan event so common in the natural world that Hopkins desc ribes it as part of a [m]illion-fueldbonfire thats se lf-destructiveness forever burns on (198). From these first few lines, two truths about the natura l world emerge that Mariani unpacks in his commentary on Hopkins: one, that na ture itself is indifferent to the cyclic processes that it generates, and two, that the pro cess is always toward change a nd annihilation of the scape of a particular object (283). This meaningless bonfire of destruction also includes humanity, whose mark quickly disappears as well, lost in the Heraclitean fires flames. No longer exhibiting or even pointing toward Christ, Bth [humanity and na ture] are in an nfthomable, ll is in an enrmous drk / Drowned (Hopkins, Poetical Works 198). At this point in the poem, Hopkins appears to exhibit a state of mind Miller attributes to him in The Disappearance of God : unable to find happiness in a se nse of Gods presence here and now, in this life, Hopkins only discovers proof that for this life there is no hope (357). Whatever notions of inscape and instress Hopkins formerly professed seem to have lost their hold on him; he now sees the world 33


as existing in an interminable flux with no tangi ble patterns or energy that connect it to the divine. He too feels the coldne ss of God that Crane depicts in A man adrift and poem VI of Black Riders, where God leaves the world forever rudderless. And yet, Hopkins does not abandon his faith altogether. After sp ending fifteen-and-ahalf lines describing how, in the natural world, vastness blurs and time | beats level (Hopkins, Poetical Works 198), leaving one without vi sible reasons to cling to religious belief, Hopkins abruptly shifts his focus to a different source of hope: the Christian idea of resurrection. As he elaborates on this concept, Hopkins makes it mark edly clear that the resu rrection has nothing to do with the life of this world. At the moment of resu rrection, Flesh fade[s], and mortal trash / Fll[s] to the resduary worm, while the worlds wildfire alluded to earlier (natures bonfire) leave[s] but ash (198). With the na tural world behind him, Hopkins, who describes himself as Ths Jack, jke, poor ptsherd, | pa tch, matchwood, is transformed into immortal diamonda transformation so drastic that Miller describes the former, natural Hopkins as as far apart as the whole distance from hell to heav en from the resurrected Hopkins (358). Thus, by the end of this poem, Hopkins faith sharply c ontrasts with the sentiments he expresses in Kingfishers, Pied Beauty and The Wrec k. Abandoning all hope of finding God in the natural world, he now exhibits a fa ith that more closely resembles the truest sense of the word: a belief that has no definite recourse to wh at is seen but is held onto nonetheless. * Based on our discussion of Crane thus far, one would expect him to reach a much different conclusion from that of Hopkins, one in which humans have no hope, in which the vision of a man eating his own heart is the closes t thing to a beatific experience Crane has to 34


offer. In regards to the natural realm, this app ears to be true. However, Cranes works also at times point toward a hope beyond this world, a h ope that resonates with Hopkins thoughts in That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire. Of these works, poem XVIII of Black Riders serves as one of the clearest examples of Cranes faith in something outside the natural re alm. Its lines describe a dialogue between God and some little blades of grass that stand before him in Heaven, awaiting his judgment (Crane 1304). In this instance, Crane is clear ly referring to something larger than the inner god that critics often associate with all of Cranes positive imag es of deity. Instead, this poem depicts the outer God, the one critics usually connect to judg mentalism and cruelty (Gandal, Spiritual 508; Westbrook 196). Based on their in terpretation of Crane s two visions of God, the blades of grass would appear to have little hope of escaping this outer Gods wrath. In fact, the poem seems to set itself up to validate their reading of Cranes two deities by having God ask the blades the question, What did you do? a question that sugge sts God is preparing to mete out judgment. Of course, the blades try to curry Gods favor or at least most of them do. [A]ll save one of the little blades begin to tell God why they deserve to enter into paradise, while the remaining blade stay[s] a small way behind / Ashamed (Crane 1304). When God questions this blade, asking, And what did yo u do? the solitary blade replies: Oh, my lord, Memory is bitter to me For if I did good deeds I know not of them. (1304) In its confession, the blade admits what the man eating his heart represents: all actions on this earth are bitter. Like the self -cannibalism of the heart-eater, everything one does in this life 35


only produces destruction, the cons tant purposeless burning that H opkins describes as Natures bonfire. According to proponents of the outer G od theory, the blades admission of its participation in the bitterness of this world should provoke God s wrath. However, at this moment, Cranes outer God vi olates the behavioral tendencies associated with him. In response to the blades honesty, he [Ri]se[s] from His throne and, instead of striking it with the firm hand of justice, says, Oh, best little blade of grass (1304). Through this closing statement, Cranes poem provides the reader with a spiritual hope similar to that of Hopkins notion of the resurrection. Just as humanity can find comfor t in the resurrectionsomething distant from the destructive flux of the na tural realmthey can also place fa ith in an outer God beyond their inner conscience who acts compassionately instea d of cruelly, who sees the corruption of the natural world and the related corr uption of humankind, yet offers some sort of life beyond this corruption [i]n Heaven, where, based on the co ntent of the poem examined above, the reader can safely assume this corrupt yet b est little blade of grass ends up. Along with this poem, another of Cranes poe tical works presents a similar, much more compact vision of Gods redemption coming from a point after ones lif e, beyond & outside the scope of nature: The patent of a lord And the bangle of a bandit Make argument Which God solves Only after lighting more candles. (qtd. in Hoffman 88) As Hoffman notes, The first 3 li nes are plain enough; the reality of privilege and plunder raises the question of evil, for how can such things be if God is good? (89) Here again, we find Crane 36


questioning the possibility of finding God in the natural world, given the latters inescapable corruption. His next linealso straightforwardplaces the answer to the question in the hands of God and God alone, in a realm beyond human reasoning. But how God solves this problem by lighting more candleslacks th e candor of the rest of the poe m. Clearly, such a statement implies that God will illumine, enlighten human minds so they can comprehend the apparent injustice in the natural world. However, the stan za provides little information as to when, where, or how this candle-lighting will take place. In unpacking this final line, Hoffmans commen ts on the poem prove to be insightful. He understands these candles as those that are lit for the souls of th e dead, which leads him to the conclusion that God will solve the argument [of the poem] for us only after our death, when He will enlighten our immortal souls on such point s of Divine Truth as lie beyond human sight (89). In light of Cranes poem about the j udgment of the blades of grass, Hoffmans interpretation seems highly plausible. Just as the humble blade had nothing but bitter memories of its sojourn in the natural world, those puzzling over the problem of evil will also be disappointed by what they find in this life. To gain the understanding they crave, they will have to wait until God illumines them after their death ca ndle is lit. Only then will they experience the heaven of knowledge, justice and compassion that the blade of gr ass enters into, the resurrected life that Hopkins speaks ofall of whic h are a far remove from the natural realm. 37


CHAPTER 6 A NEW DIRECTION FOR FAITH At this point in the essay, both Hopkins and Crane appear to ha ve progressed from a Romantic panentheistic vision of faith, where God speaks to humanity through the world around them, to a different kind of faith, the type of faith described in the opening quote by Frederick Buechner, in which Hopkins and Crane see the wo rld as something that could easily be written off as a cosmic accident, but, instead, see it through the eyes of faith and reach the opposite answer: that God, though he may not be tangibly found, is nevertheless there. However, to claim that either author merely moves through the three stages descri bed in the essay in a strictly linear fashion would be preposte rous, particularly when one considers the chronology of the works discussed above. Hopkinswho, of the tw o writers, seems to follow a more traceable spiritual pathwrites The Wreck before he writ es his poems that depict Gods immanence in natures beauty; thus, finding God in natures fe rocity (Stage Two) lead s him to locating God in natures splendor (Stage One) before he ends up placing his faith in something extra-natural (Stage Three). Crane, on the other hand, never really seems to end up anywhere. Mr. Binks Day Off was published in 1894, a year before Black Riders which contains both his poem about God leaving the world forever rudderless and his poem describing Gods compassionate judgment of an honest blade of gr ass. After this, he publishes The Open Boat in about the same time he writes A man adrift on a slim sparthen follows this work with his second volume of poems, War Is Kind in which contains his quasi-romantic poem that finds Gods presence in the small gleams in the natu ral world around him. And his poem about the problem of evil and Gods candle-lighting answ er was never published, making its date of composition undeterminable. Because of these fl uctuations within his canon, Cranes critics 38


have reasonably accused him of vacillating between an atheistic position, a belief in an absentee God, and/or some form of trad itional Christian faith (Blair 229; Gandal, Mystic 111; Sloan 30). As a result, Cranes ultimate spiritual trajectory remains foggy at best. Nevertheless, the spiritual content of his and Hopkins poetry sugge sts a possible solution for the spiritual crisis of their timestimes in which the connection between the spiritual and material realms seem to dissolve. This solutio nwhether or not Crane ever fully buys into it involves replacing a faith bound to the natural worl d with a faith bound up in the promise of a better world that resides in the realm of the inta ngible, in an afterlife. Such a conclusion suggests not only that Cranes critics have been gi ving short shrift to the spiritual side of his works; it also indicates that tr ans-Atlantic investigations of questions of faith within latenineteenth century literature might bear fruit th at will foster a better understanding of religious faith at that time, giving us a spiritual barome ter that can more accurately measure whether God was as dead during this time as authors like Hard y believed him to be, or whether others, like Hopkins & Crane, saw potential ways for faith to fo rge ahead in spite, or, perhaps, because of its challengers.1 1 In examining this pivotal spiritual question of the late-nineteenth century, possible transAtlantic inquiries might include investigating fa ith or the absence of faith in the works of Dickinson, Twain, the American re alists, and/or Henry Adams (t hough his work technically falls within the first few years of the twentieth ce ntury) in tandem with the writings of Hardy, Tennyson, Carlyle, and/or George Eliot. These examples are by no means exhaustive, but could easily open up new arenas of thought on this issue, which is gene rally treated as specifically American or British instead of a trans-national crisis. 39


LIST OF REFERENCES Ahlstrom, Sydney E. A Religious History of the American People New Haven: Yale UP, 1972. Blair, John. The Posture of a Bohemian in the Poetry of Stephen Crane. American Literature 61:2 (May 1989): 215-229. Chi, Yuan-wen. Demystificati on and Revelation: Nature in The Red Badge of Courage . American Studies/Meiguo yan jiu 15:2 (June 1985): 1-21. Crane, Stephen. Prose and Poetry New York: Library of America, 1984. Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species 1859. Ed. Gillian Beer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996. Fitzhugh, Mike. Hopkinss Mystic Line: The Wreck of the Deutschland as a Revelatory Path. Studia Mystica 17 (1996): 78-91. Gandal, Keith. A Spiritual Autopsy of Stephen Crane. Nineteenth-Century Literature 51:4 (Mar. 1997): 500-30. ---. Stephen Cranes Mystic Places. Arizona Quarterly 55:1 (1999): 97-126. Hagemann, E.R. Sadder than the End: Another Look at The Open Boat. Stephen Crane in Transition: Centenary Essays Ed. Joseph Katz. Dekalb: Northern Illinois UP, 1972. 66-85. Hoffman, Daniel. The Poetry of Stephen Crane New York: Columbia UP, 1956. Hopkins, Gerard Manley. The Journals and Papers of Gerard Manley Hopkins Ed. Humphry House. London: Oxford UP, 1959. ---. The Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges Ed. C. C. Abbott. London: Oxford UP, 1955. ---. The Poetical Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins Ed. Norman H. MacKenzie. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1990. ---. The Sermons and Devotional Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins Ed. Christopher Devlin. London: Oxford UP, 1959. Huang, Jiaxiu. Stephen Cranes Poetry of the Absurd. Re-Reading America: Changes and Challenges Eds. Zhong Weihe and Han Rui. Cheltenham, Eng.: Reardon, 2004. 13135. 40


Johnson, Clarence O. Mr. Binks Read Emerson: Stephen Crane and Emersons Nature. American Literary Realism 15:1 (Spring 1982): 104-10 Levine, George. Scientific Discourse as an Alternative to Faith. Victorian Faith in Crisis: Essays on Continuity and Change in Nineteenth-Century Religious Belief Eds. Richard J. Helmstadter and Bernard Lightman. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1990. MacKenzie, Norman H. Commentary. The Poetical Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins By Gerard Manley Hopkins. Ed. MacKenzie. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1990. 213-513. Mariani, Paul L. A Commentary on the Complete Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1970. Mathai, Varghese. Breath, Uttera nce, and the Word: Three Elements of the Arch and Original Sound in Hopkins. Rereading Hopkins: Selected New Essays Ed. Francis L. Fennell. Victoria: U of Victoria, 1996. 127-42. Miller, J. Hillis. The Disappearance of God: Five Nineteenth-Century Writers Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1963. Nixon, Jude. From Pap to Poison: Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Poetics of Darwinism. Gerard Manley Hopkins and Critical Discourse Ed. Eugene Hollahan. New York: AMS, 1993. 97-115. Pizer, Donald. Realism and Naturalism in Nineteen th-Century Amer ican Literature Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1984. Sloan, Gary. Stephen Crane: The Black Badge of Unbelief. American Atheist 42:3 (Summer 2004): 28+. Thornton, R.K.R. What Can I but Enumerate Old Themes? Hopkins Quarterly 31 (2004): 3141. Westbrook, Max. Recognizing the Two Voices in Cranes Poetry. Readings on Stephen Crane Ed. Bonnie Szumski. San Diego: Gr eenhaven, 1998. 191-96. Rpt. of Stephen Cranes Poetry: Perspective and Arrogance. Bucknell Review 11 (Dec. 1963): 24-34. White, Gavin. How the Churches Got to Be the Way They Are. London: SCM P, 1990. White, Norman. Hopkins: A Literary Biography Oxford: Clarendon P, 1992. Wilson, A.N. Gods Funeral New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1999. 41


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Josh did his undergraduate st udies at Houghton College, wher e he graduated in 2005 with a B.A. in English in w riting. He entered the University of Florida s masters program in English studies in the fall of 2005, where he has focused primarily on the conflict between traditional religion and modernization in inte rnational nineteenthand twentieth-century literature. 42