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God's Grandeu - Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Despite the apparent message of modernity's destruction of faith, Gerard Manley Hopkins' "God's Grandeur" latently implies that this is a mere illusion. The literary devices of specific images and symbols, language and the speaker's style express the notion that despite man's apparent indifference to God and all his wonders, God is still omnipresent.

Hopkins' sonnet is divided into two forms of imagery: nature and industry. These are equally compared throughout the verse in an attempt to underpin the speaker's message that God does exist, even in an ever changing world where science, knowledge and tangibility is foremost. Noel suggests that in man's search for knowledge he rejects God's gifts and instead of using them for their intention he only acquires "confusion and barrenness" (Noel 1964:287). A dilemma is staged in the first octet through strong, powerful, energetic imagery with its double entendre. The dilemma is man's ability to keep their faith or substitute it for greed, self- enhancement and possibly self-destruction. "The world is charged..." indicates both God's power and man's new found electric power. The light or flame is a symbol of God and the Holy Trinity but also a visual of man's ability to capture and control light and use flame to employ industry. Lackey suggests that although nature is being seemingly "crushed" it has the ability to renew itself, therefore, how can man appear to lose his faith when evidence to the contrary is everywhere (Lackey 2001:86). An increasing disassociation with God is reinforced through the idea that for decades man "have trod, have trod, have trod" creating a visual of tearing the land apart, no longer treating it with respect, and this imagery is armored by "... nor can foot feel, being shod."

The sestet, according to White, following the example of the Italian sonnet form, suggests that a solution to the dilemma presented in the octet is now presented by the power of its statement of religious belief (White 1966:284). Here the imagery shifts from man's destruction to God's presence. The imagery trends towards natural, softer themes and is supported by religious symbolism. The speaker suggests that even when the world sleeps God is still there caring or watching over mankind and when it seems that nature has been "crushed" and destruction is everywhere, "nature is never spent, and their lives the dearest freshness deep down things:" The symbol of a bird sitting over the "bent" world provides an image of an actual bird sitting upon its egg, protecting it and keeping it safe, or the religious connotation that the bird is a dove, symbolising the Holy Spirit, which cocoons the world despite the world being "bent" either in physical shape or through man's sinful ways. The image of sunset and sunrise provides a connection between the octet and the sestet by the symbolism of light or God. Light enhances creation, it feeds the earth and therefore, although man may choose to believe in sciences' contribution to earth rejuvenation, God is still omnipresent. Imagery and symbolism endeavour to evoke feelings, and this is supported by the language and style utilised.

Unlike a Petrachian style sonnet, Hopkins employs a combination of modern language alongside a classical, more traditional language. In the first octet, the language is literal, the word choice commanding and direct, creating a sharpness and urgency to the meaning, whereas the sestet moves away into figurative expression, using softer, gentler language. Slakey proposes that the strong use of metaphor and simile suggest the difference between the direct



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