Original poem reprinted online here: "It was a hard thing to undo this knot" by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Originally read: July 26, 2013
More information about the Poet: Gerard Manley Hopkins
Rhymed couplets. Ballade? This was my first assumption on the form. However, now, I don't think this poem is a ballade (based on the definition of the ballade. Basically, I'm reading this poem from a couplet perspective and looking at the connection from couplet to couplet.
"It was a hard thing to undo this knot. / The rainbow shines, but only in the thought" First thin I wrote was "what knot?" And then I kind of figured that knot could be another way of stating "quandary" or "curiousity". However, the "rainbow" line is kind of weird. The two images don't really tie in together. Even so, there are are two parties in play -- the I who has to undo the knot and the you which is further delved into the next couplet.
"Of him that looks. Yet not in that alone, / For who makes rainbows by invention?" The second is the "him," the divine. The rhetorical questions serves to contrast the knot quandary by adding another question. Who makes rainbows by invention? Implying that rainbows are created, not invented. And the he creates in the physical rendition and mind.
"And many standing round a waterfall / See one bow each, yet not the same at all," We're away from the knot and towards a bow And here the word "bow" is played with. Yes, there's the physical description of a bow (the violin kind and the parts of rainbow are like the strings) but also the idea of genuflect, and changing the knot into something beautiful like a bow on top a present, or a bow like in bow and arrow, "yet not the same at all."
\"But each a hand's breadth further than the next / The sun on falling waters writes the text." Here the poem goes back to the divine creating and the "I" and "we' interpreting. There's one core that writes, there are many that interpret.
"Which yet is the eye or the thought. / It was a hard thing to undo this knot." Past me wrote, "repent" pointing to "hard thing." However now, with the mention of the divine and how it creates, the quandary seems like this: If the divine is the only entity that creates, what is the writer? The writer is an interpreter. Is the writer unable or incapable of creation, but only interpretation. If yes, then what is the point of self expression. If no, does this thought of creation, biased through interpretation, apply to all texts...all texts?