There’s something easy about despair. We change in ways we never desired. Our work may not be what we thought it would be. We hear that the humanities no longer matter. We hear that our generation is burdened with unproductive debt. We hear that everyone is becoming more and more isolated. And the despair seems to fill in where community should be.
But there is something else to despair. The more we say it, the more the accented syllable becomes more apparent. Despair becomes spair becomes spare.
A poet of the late 1800s, Gerard Manley Hopkins, wrote on this connection. In his companion poems, “The Leaden Echo” and “The Golden Echo,” a young maiden laments the inevitable loss of beauty while looking at her own reflection in a well. As she imagines future wrinkles and graying hair, she finally forms the word despair. It redounds from the stone of the well to return to her as “Spare!” Through this partial echo of the original word, despair is transformed to hope.
Like “The Golden Echo,” this blog will explore a hermeneutic of hope, a way of reading that affirms that poetry matters, the humanities matter, and you matter.
I am a PhD student in the English department at Emory University. I previously completed a certificate in university teaching and an MA in English at Oregon State University with an emphasis on Victorian poetry and the relational nature of literature.
In a past life, I was a management studies researcher, focusing on public sector innovation, service-dominant logic, and ambiculturalism. You can find my research on innovation and creative synthesis over at the Academy of Management Review.
My research interests include Victorian poetry, medieval influences on Victorian literature, the theological turn, and dialogical models of reading. Specifically, I examine the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, within its historical and religious context, in dialogue with poetic tradition and contemporary poets and novelists. Following Martin Buber’s philosophy, I explore ways that meaning is neither authorial nor interpreted but relational.