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Analysis of Hopkin’s Poem "god’s Grandeur"

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Gerard Hopkins wrote God’s Grandeur in 1877 right around the time he was ordained as a priest. The poem deals with his feelings about God’s presence and power in the world. He could not understand how the people inhabiting the earth could refuse or be distracted from God. This confusion was due to the greatness of God’s power and overall existence that, to Hopkins, seemed impossible and sinful to ignore. However, as the poem progresses Hopkins expresses hope in the world and God’s everlasting presence in it. This poem has much meaning to it and expresses the thoughts and feelings that Hopkins was having at the time he wrote it. When one first reads God’s Grandeur it is hard to fully understand what Hopkins was trying to convey. One must first look into the life of the author himself to begin to grasp what the words of the poem indirectly mean.

Hopkins was born on July twenty-eighth 1844 as one of nine children in Stratford, Essex. He was born into a flourishing Europe that was growing rapidly industrially. Both of his parents were very much involved in the Catholic Church, and his father had published a volume of poetry a year before his birth. As one can determine from this, much of his influence came from his parents. Hopkins began writing poetry in grammar school during which he won a poetry prize. This prize gave him a scholarship to Balliol College in Oxford, where he earned two degrees and was considered by his professors and peers to be the star of Balliol. Throughout his life he was very connected to his religion. So much that in 1868, after joining the Society of Jesus, he burned all of his work because he felt that it conflicted with Jesuit principles. It was not until 1872 that he began to write poetry again. It was then in 1877 he was ordained as a Jesuit priest and wrote some of his best and most well-known work, including God’s Grandeur (Everett 1).

When analyzing and determining what Hopkins was trying to convey through this poem, one must break it down into three parts. Hopkins communicates three main points in his poem, and each line can be placed under one of these three points. The first point is the prominence and greatness of God in our world. The second builds off of the first, questioning the lack of respect, worship, or simple acknowledgement of God by the human race. The third point continues Hopkins’s thinking process by expressing hope in the Holy Ghost and his never-ending existence in the world.

The first point of the poem that Hopkins desired to convey is in the first three lines. The poem starts off by giving a description of God’s grandeur in our world. The first line is representative of the time period that the poem was written, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Hopkins’s use of the word “charged” to describe God’s presence, may it have been intentional or not, reflects the world that Hopkins lived in. In 1877 electricity had been discovered, but it was still an uncontrollable and indescribable mystery. It was a power that could not be fully explained just like God’s presence on the earth, something that is still as much of a mystery today. It was almost God-like, and was a perfect was to explain God’s existence.

Another comparison is made at the end of line three, “It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil.” The world under God is being compared to the ooze of oil, expressing how God’s will holds the earth together like oil. Throughout the poem Hopkins uses alliteration very effectively and in these first few lines it is blatantly evident. Certain consonants are used in different ways to unify each line. An example of this is in

the second line where the consonants “F” and “S” are used, “It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.”

The second point of the poem begins in the fourth line and continues through to line eight. In line four, the harmony that was created by the choice of words and use of flowing alliteration is suddenly disrupted by a question: “Why do men then now not reck his rod?” The term “reck his rod” was slang at the time the poem was written and meant to basically obey God. Hopkins chose to use this term for a reason. This one line incorporates alliteration, assonance, and an internal rhyme. The consonant “R” and “N” are used to create alliteration, along with the repeating vowel “O” throughout the line to form assonance. The internal rhyme of “men” and “then” is also caught up in the mix of line four. Hopkins chose to do this to make the line very difficult to recite in order to correspond with the difficulty in human behavior. Hopkins does not understand why the human race by majority does not obey God. He feels that this is incorrect behavior. Line five continues with this thought. The phrase “have trod” is repeated three times in this line to represent the repeated

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