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Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gods Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Poetry belongs to the most magnificent kinds of art which have the power to transform the ordinary and trivial things into the bright and picturesque imagery. Poems in their nature are the poets reflection of the surrounded world according to his or her understanding of the things and phenomena. It is primarily the voice of the poets heart and imagination. Because of this, not everyone can be the poet as well as not each person can understand the poetry. However, the virtuosos of the word and their works are a valuable treasure of society. They can carry the spirit of the ages through the centuries not limiting themselves to the facts only but saving all the emotional spectrum related to the events, personalities, social challenges and believes. The artworks of Gerard Manley Hopkins are one of the brightest examples of such transmission in the world art legacy. Thus, the paper seeks to analyze the sonnet Gods Grandeur as one of the precious pearls of the Hopkins art revealing the eternal issues which are still actual in the modern society.

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Having a close concern to religion in the daily life Gerard Manley Hopkins could not avoid this eternal theme in his poetry that brightly reflects the poets vision of the Universe infused by God. Sincerely admiring with the Gods design and worrying about human ignoring the beauty of the world Gerard Manley Hopkins expresses these feelings in the sonnet Gods Grandeur. Through virtuous operating with the multifaceted and accurate metaphors, exquisite rhythm, choice of words and their combinations the author managed to create unique imaginary of the sonnet. He was like a painter but instead of paintbrush Hopkins used the words to portray the wealthy of Gods gifts endowed to people through the each detail in the world surrounding them. The title of the sonnet demonstrates brightly the deep essence of the artwork which is gradually developed in next two poems parts: eight-line stanza and sestet.

It is worth to admit that despite being a quite short in its size the sonnet has deep context full of significant poets messages hidden in symbolism. Religious traditions are the major solid ground for symbols and metaphors were used in the sonnet. Thus, just the first line says that the world is charged with Gods Grandeur implying on the light or electrical nature of divinity (Hopkins). It seems to be strange for those readers who expect to meet more exalted terminology, but the person who is saturated with the Bible can see the hint on the Creation which began with the spark of light. Thinking in such way, one can conclude that God is the light as well as the permanent source of the light charging every element in the Universe, including human nature.

Continuing the thought in the second line Hopkins compare the grandeur of God with the shinning caused by the optical effect when the thin metal catches the light. This metaphor of sudden burst which appears accidently and on condition of coincidence between the needed surfaces and angle of incidence make the reader think about the appearing the sincere faith in the human heart. People remain blind to the particular turning point in their life when their eyes open and start to see the grandeur of God. Because of this, it seems to be like a sudden but evident flame. Here can be another perspective of sudden burst. It is as dangerous as brilliant. Under this figurative meaning, one can notice the hidden aspects which people are not able to notice, but that can make a significant pressure on their life and surrounding world. It may be the metaphorical transition to the question Hopkins rises further implying not evident but crucial human influence on nature.

Gods grandeur is in every element of the Universe and it gathers to the greatness, like the ooze of oil. Here one can see the religious symbol of olive oil which the ancient sacramental substances again. Besides it was used for numerous needs almost in every aspect of human life. Taking into account such interpretation one can assume that the poet emphasizes the crucial meaning of the faith and its life-giving force in the third line. Moreover, if comparing the movements poet implies in the second and third lines one can see the evident contrast between slowness of oozing and quick flash. This contrasting alongside with the stressed syllable in the fourth sonnets line create the imagery of human violence against the environment that is not consonant with the grandeur of God. To enhance such effect and lead the readers to the urgent question the poet starts the fourth line from Crashed word which embodies the violence. Only then he asked why do people not reck the rod? as if saying that Gods grandeur is so evident and it is strange that people do not see it.

Next four lines demonstrated the poets explanation to the dissonance he performed previously. Thus, the repetition of the words combination have trod in the fifth line make the solid accent on the daily routine in which the numerous generations are involved from day to day without the smallest breather. To fix the heavy and oppressive tone of the previous line Gerard Manley Hopkins used three beat rhythm in the next sixth line: seared..., ...bleared,...smeard! These alike in their sounding words the poet composes with the trade and toil as if underlying the need of hard work in human life that has occupied the leading place among the other daily businesses. Moreover, mentioning the soil in the next line make to think that this work is harmful not only for the human body but also for the environment. The confirmation of this assumption can be found in the last line of the octave. Using the adjective bare concerning the soil Hopkins seems to mean that it is vulnerable to the human activity. If speaking about the metaphorical approach, the soil can also be interpreted as the ground for faith. From this point of view, the eight line seems to hint on the futility of human pursuit of prosperity because people could not seize the true essence of the things and feel the grandeur of God until they will be shod.


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Summing up the first eight-line stanza, it is worth to admit that it can be divided into two parts which differ one from another in the tone and the character of imaginary. The first four lines express the light and divinity of nature when the next four actualize the issue of human ignorance and violating grandeur of God by their daily activity. Figuratively it can be distinguished as white and black colors in the palette of Universe.

The following sestet eliminates and dispels the darkness evoked in the second part of the first stanza. Starting from the first line Gerard Manley Hopkins claims that in spite of human fallenness the nature as well as the grandeur of God does not stop to shine with the spiritual indices. The freshness remains and continues to live deep in the every thing in the world. Be means of this claim the poet emphasizes the genius of Gods design of Universe as well as His infinite and inexhaustible mercy to the human. Hopkins smoothly and confidently develops his thought in the next lines. He presents the Gods power of eternal rebirth and renewal with each new day.

Writing about unavoidable alternation of the darkness and shine, day and night he, most likely, means the coexistence of good and evil. Moreover, making art accents on the morning and springs which are associated with the hope and victory the authors presents his conviction in the superiority of good over the evil and, hence, God power. The fifth line of the sonnets sestet appears as if the confirmation for the previous assumption saying that the patronage and vigilance of Holy Ghost are the primary reasons for the optimism is expressed in the second stanza. One could not help to notice that mentioning the Holy Ghost is not accidentally used here. It is addressing to the religion traditions and the Holy Trinity. The allusion of Holy Spirit can be found in the last line where the image of the bright wings appears as the symbol of a dove which used to be perceived as an embodiment of Holy Spirit and vivid evidence of benevolent Gods authorship.

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It is worth to admit that the second stanza is the emotional expression of the Gerard Manley Hopkins deep and sincere religious convictions and faith. Two exclamations Oh! and Ah! are bright confirmation to this assumption. Moreover, they not only the demonstration of the poets emotions but, most likely, the art tools for accenting the meaningful things he tries to carry to the readers. The grandeur of God, natural renewal and rebirth are not just the exaltation here but an attempt to emphasize the crucial meaning of them as the aspects each person should be guided in their lives. It means that people should not rely on the Gods benevolence only, they should use it as the example to follow or the spiritual road-map. Only global mindset, internal purity and following religion rules can help society reassess its life values and avoid violating environment as well as one the other. It seems to be the primary message of Gerard Manley Hopkins to the people of all times and nations.

One can see that the multifacetedness of symbols, metaphors, and allusions the poet used in his famous sonnet Gods Grandeur. He masterly applied the allegory and figures from the Holy Script with the scientific notions and evident features of nature which help to create rich and bright imagery. It is worth mentioning that besides symbolism Gerard Manley Hopkins successfully operates with the other poetic devices. The assonance and alliteration are among them.Thus, words which begin with the same vowel or consonant are placed in one line or close one to the other. Ooze of oil in the first stanza is one of the examples of assonance when shining and shook, reck and rod present the alliteration. The rhyming of the words is also one of the distinguishing feature of the sonnet that shows its belonging to the Victorian poetry.

After all, one can see that just reading of the sonnet Gods Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins is not enough to understand the deep essence of the artwork. Only substantial considering and decoding of the imaginary the poet uses in his poem can help to seize the core message of the author and feel the emotions with which he was guided in the moment of creating this poetic masterpiece. It is worth to say that interpreting of the symbols depends on the readers knowledge and imagination and because of this fact it may differ from person to person. In this concern the other poetic devices gain significant meaning as well as they direct person's attention to the things the poet considers central elements. That is why, it is so important to understand the tone, rhymes, choice of words to interpret the symbols allusions in the right way.

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