God’s Grandeur

God’s Grandeur

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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;
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;
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.

Summary of God’s Grandeur

  • Popularity “God’s Grandeur”: Written by Gerard Hopkins, a famous poet, and Jesuit Priest, “God’s Grandeur” is famous for its divine appraisal and presence of God on the earth. It was first published in 1918 in the collection Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins.  The poem explores the relationship between the divine world and the world of nature. It illustrates how divine presence infuses its spirit and refreshes the world, despite the attempts of mankind to destroy its real fabric through materialism. The popularity of the poem lies in the fact that it praises God for the role He plays to restore the world destroyed by human greed and love for materialism.
  • “God’s Grandeur” As a Praise of God’s Glory: The poem illustrates the poet’s excitement on the everlasting presence of God and his resentment on the destruction of the world caused by people. He argues that the world is filled to the brim with God’s splendor and glory. Later, he comments upon the approach of a modern man whose involvement and labor has corroded the real beauty of the earth. And, now, the earth smells of the toil of man. Despite being destroyed by man, it still harbors life because God always restores it. However, what enchants the readers is the way he sees hope and God’s everlasting presence in the world.
  • Major Themes in “God’s Grandeur”: Man’s contact with the natural world and the eternal presence of God are the major themes of this Italian sonnet. The speaker is overwhelmed and excited by the existence of God. He also poses a question on man’s lack of awareness and his insensitivity to nature. To him, man is responsible for the omission of natural beauty. He adds people are too busy in their lives that they do not have time to see what damage they have done to the place they live in. However, nature cannot be destroyed, and it will always shine because God’s presence and love will continually restore it.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “God’s Grandeur”

Literary devices are tools that enable the writers to present their ideas, emotions, and feelings and also help the readers understand those more profound meanings. Hopkins has also employed some literary devices in this poem to show the power of God’s glory. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “Generations have trod, have trod, have trod” and /ea/ sound in “And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil”.
  • Parallelism: Parallelism is the use of components in a sentence that is grammatically the same, or similar in their construction, sound, meanings, or meter. This device is used in the first stanza, “And all is seared with trade” is paralleling “bleared, smeared with toil” and “And wears man’s smudge” is paralleling “and shares man’s smell”.
  • Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /d/ in “World broods with warm breast and with ah! Bright wings”.
  • Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects different in nature. The working of God’s power in his creation is compared to an enormous electric charge in the second line of the poem where it is stated as, “It will flame out, like shining from shook foil”.
  • Simile: Simile is a device used to compare an object with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. There are two similes used in this poem. The first is used in the second line, “It will flame out, like shining from shook foil” and “It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil”.
  • Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /g/ in “It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil” and /d/ sound in “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things”.
  • Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of any word or expression in the poem. Hopkins has repeated the words “have trod” in the fifth line to emphasize the ruination caused by men on earth.

The careful glimpse of literary analysis shows that Hopkins has skilfully employed these devices to express his gratitude toward God. The appropriate use of these devices has made the poem deep and thought-provoking for the readers.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “God’s Grandeur”

 Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Italian sonnet: Italian sonnet form divides the poem into 14 lines in two parts; the first part is called an octave and the second part is called a sestet.
  • Octave: An octave is a verse form consisting of eight lines of iambic pentameter. Here the first stanza is the octave.
  • Sestet: A sestet is the part of Italian sonnet made up of six lines. Here, the second stanza is a sestet.
  • Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed by the entire sonnet is ABBAABBA CDCDCD.
  • Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter comprising five iambs. This poem consists of iambic pentameter such as, “The world is charged with the grandeur of”.

Quotes to be Used

These lines can be used in a speech when discussing the greatness of God. These could also be used in religious sermons to explain the omnipresence and power of God.

“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.”

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