The Wreck of the Deutschland: Stanza 23 - Summary

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      The five nuns belong to the order founded by St. Francis of Assisi who was quite known for devotion and the five marks of wounds of Christ visible very clearly on his body. St. Francis was once assured that he would be blessed as he would follow Christ in His resurrection and would be led to Heaven. If his was revealed to him by an angel. But these five sisters were doomed to death. These five nuns now will experience both the mercy and the wrath of God. The death of nuns became a blessing for them because it gave them a new life, a life without death.

Line by Line Analysis

Lines 1-4: Joy fall to thee.....lovescape crucified: The poet feels that St. Francis must be happy for his nuns. These nuns belonged to the order by St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was a faithful follower of Christ till his death and was the only man to carry the five wounds on his body. St. Francis in his vision was once assured by God that he would have Christ’s blessings and would go to heaven.

His love escape: Five wounds on St. Francis’s body

Lines 5-7: And seal of his seraph.....waters: These five sisters or nuns though are doomed to death in the stormy sea but are the pride of St. Francis.

Line 8: To bathe in his.....glances: ‘Fall-gold mercies’ refers to God’s kindness like a shower of gold. The nuns will have the taste of two aspects of God e.g. his mercy and his anger. ‘All fire glances’ refers to the terror of God or His majesty. Hopkins here suggests that God can manifest himself in both the aspects in equal terms. The terrible fact is that these nuns are going to perish in the stormy sea.

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