Felix Randal

F{'e}lix R{'a}ndal the f{'a}rrier, O is he d{'e}ad then? my d{'u}ty all
{'e}nded,
Who have watched his mould of man, bigboned and hardy-handsome
Pining, pining, till time when reason rambled in it, and some
Fatal four disorders, fleshed there, all contended?
Sickness broke him. Impatient, he cursed at first, but mended
Being anointed |&| all; tho' a heavenlier heart began some
M{'o}nths {'e}arlier, since {'I} had our sw{'e}et repr{'i}eve |&|
r{'a}nsom
T{'e}ndered to him. {'A}h well, God r{'e}st him {'a}ll road {'e}ver he
off{'e}nded!

This s{'e}eing the s{'i}ck end{'e}ars them t{'o} us, us t{'o}o it
end{'e}ars.
My tongue had taught thee comfort, touch had quenched thy tears,
Thy tears that touched my heart, child, Felix, poor Felix Randal;
How far from then forethought of, all thy more boisterous years,
When thou at the random grim forge, powerful amidst peers
Didst fettle for the great grey drayhorse his bright |&| battering
sandal!

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Comments (4)

This a moving and powerful poem. Would someone PLEASE get the typography straightened out. In its present form, it's practically unreadable
Another powerful poem, an elegy, horribly mutilated in the PH typographical presentation. Read this instead: Felix Randal the farrier, O is he dead then? my duty all ended, Who have watched his mould of man, big-boned and hardy-handsome Pining, pining, till time when reason rambled in it, and some Fatal four disorders, fleshed there, all contended? Sickness broke him. Impatient, he cursed at first, but mended Being anointed and all; though a heavenlier heart began some Months earlier, since I had our sweet reprieve and ransom Tendered to him. Ah well, God rest him all road ever he offended! This seeing the sick endears them to us, us too it endears. My tongue had taught thee comfort, touch had quenched thy tears, Thy tears that touched my heart, child, Felix, poor Felix Randal; How far from then forethought of, all thy more boisterous years, When thou at the random grim forge, powerful amidst peers, Didst fettle for the great grey drayhorse his bright and battering sandal!
Presumably when Hopkins writes of his duty ending, it is his duty as a priest. Felix was initially broken by his ‘fatal four disorders, ’then reconciled by the ‘sweet reprieve and ransom’ afforded him by his belief in Christ. Clearly Hopkins was the catalyst for Felix’s sense of redemption. The third stanza is filled with compassion, which is felt as two-way. As with the aged, human frailty brings out the best in us, revealing us in turn at our most loveable and human. The last verse is a flashback to the farrier at the height of his powers, big and strong and bestriding the world like a colossus. The contrast allows us to understand that it is vulnerability that makes human beings heroic, not strength and dominance and power.
It's not doing the poet or poem a service by setting out this unreadable way. Why not: Felix Randal the farrier, O he is dead then? my duty all ended, Who have watched his mould of man, big-boned and hardy-handsome Pining, pining, till time when reason rambled in it and some Fatal four disorders, fleshed there, all contended? Sickness broke him. Impatient he cursed at first, but mended Being anointed and all; though a heavenlier heart began some Months earlier, since I had our sweet reprieve and ransom Tendered to him. Ah well, God rest him all road ever he offended! This seeing the sick endears them to us, us too it endears. My tongue had taught thee comfort, touch had quenched thy tears, Thy tears that touched my heart, child, Felix, poor Felix Randal; How far from then forethought of, all thy more boisterous years, When thou at the random grim forge, powerful amidst peers, Didst fettle for the great grey drayhorse his bright and battering sandal!