Gerard Manley Hopkins

by PammyMcB

“God’s Grandeur”

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;        5
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;        10
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

“The Windhover”

To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,        5
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion        10
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

“Carrion Comfort”

NOT, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me        5
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,        10
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

Analysis

To Hopkins, God is the creator and the savior of man. He is the power, truth, beauty, and answer. Also to Hopkins, God is all around man, even if they do not notice Him.

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God. / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; / It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil / Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?” (“God’s Grandeur;” lines 1-4) 

Hopkins uses an electrical current and oil as metaphors for the power, beauty, and majesty of God. The power, beauty, and majesty have been infused through the entire world. Most men do not see or feel the “grandeur” of God, though it is there. Because they do not see him, these men ignore God.

And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; / And though the last lights off the black West went / Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — Because the Holy Ghost over the bent / World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. (“God’s Grandeur”) 

Despite the destruction of the world due to the Industrial Revolution, nature still exists because of God. The beauty and power of God can be found in nature because it is an indication of God’s existence, more like a manifestation. God creates life even in the darkest recesses of the world.

“daylight’s dauphin” (“The Windhover;” line 2) 

Hopkins use of daylight is a metaphor for God. Daylight is known in many cultures as a giver of life, because without sunlight, life cannot be sustained. For Christians, God is the giver of life. Without God, life cannot be sustained.

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear. / Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod, / Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer. / Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród / Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year / Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God. (“Carrion Comfort;” lines 9-14) 

Regardless of all of Hopkins’ suffering, he accepted God. His acceptance has made him happy and strong. Though he still suffers and questions his faith, God still rescued him, and beauty is still around him. God is his answer, his truth.

Hopkins’ poetry all seems to have the same underlying theme. The three poems assigned reflect man’s struggle with God. In “God’s Grandeur,” Hopkins admits that not all men are believers, and some who do believe, ignore God. These same assumptions can be made about man in today’s society. Paganism and Wicca are on the rise, as is the claims of Atheistic beliefs. These shifts in religious beliefs are evidence of man’s struggle with God.

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