[Bridges, Robert, ed. Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. 1918. Second Edition. With an Appendix of Additional Notes, and a Critical Introduction by Charles Williams. 1930. The Oxford Bookshelf. 1937. London: Oxford University Press, 1941.]Actually it was the book itself that attracted me most to begin with. I'm a bit of a Charles Williams fan, for one thing, and then again it was interesting to see Robert Bridge's original arrangement of the poems (Hopkins died in 1889, but - famously and notoriously - it wasn't till 1918 that his friend and executor Bridges finally published them, after thirty odd years of dithering). It had a rather dark and soiled binding, so it wasn't surprising that it was priced so cheaply, at $8.
Maurice Duggan (1922-1974) is - of course - far better known as a short story writer than a poet, though a short book of his poems, A Voice for the Minotaur, was published posthumously by the Holloway Press in 2002. It's therefore quite interesting to see him purchasing (and annotating) a copy of Hopkins in 1944, at the age of 22. There's a certain schoolboy earnestness in the way he notes down important facts: he's careful to write in the date of Hopkins' death on the halftitle, for instance: Book Council site (copied from the 1998 Oxford Companion to NZ Literature) specifies that it was "early in 1944 [that] he made contact with Frank Sargeson at Sargeson’s Takapuna bach, and the older man quickly became his mentor." Perhaps it was at Frank's suggestion that he decided to bone up on Hopkins, buying this book on the 8th of July of that year. Duggan wrote notes on a number of the poems - mostly the famous ones: "The Windhover", "Pied Beauty" etc., and marked them on the list of contents:Ériger en lois sans impressions personnelles, c’est le grand effort d’un homme s’il est sincère [Formulating laws without personal bias, this is the supreme achievement of a serious man] – Rémy de Gourmont
tears Are in his eyes, and in his ears The murmur of a thousand years; Before him he sees Life unroll, A placid and continuous wholeThese turn out to be from a poem by Matthew Arnold, "Resignation". The precise connection with Hopkins isn't clear, but perhaps it denotes Duggan's determination, even at this early stage, to carry out Arnold's instructions "to see life steadily and see it whole" - to savour the eccentricities and felicities of so ambitious and complex (yet also so personally and professionally thwarted) a predecessor as Gerard Manley Hopkins.