Analysis of God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Thesis Statement: The poem is woven around multiple divine themes like the intimacy of God with nature, the corrupt ways of man, the temporariness of human designs and scope for hope and renewal.


I. Multiple themes inherent in the poem
A. The intimacy of God with nature
B. Corrupt ways of man
C. The temporariness of human designs
E. Scope for hope and renewal

II. Religious themes
A. Biblical themes highlighting the connection of God with nature
B. Biblical themes depicting the corruption of man
II. The temporariness of human designs
A. Highlighted through the use of appropriate metrical devices

III. Scope for renewal
A. Emotions of intense faith and hope
B. Introduction of supernatural overtones

IV. Conclusion
A. Restatement of the multiple divine themes residing in the poem

An Analysis of God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The poem God’s Grandeur by poet Gerard Manley Hopkins is discernibly a religious poem affiliated to multiple divine themes. On the one side, the poet celebrates the intimate way in which the Divine is interwoven and connected to nature, while on the other side he expresses his contempt for the way humanity disrobes the nature of its divinity. It goes without saying that the poem also suggests a way of seeking out the real meaning of human life through nature. The poem also highlights the temporary nature and shiftiness of human designs.
The poet has resorted to the usage of varied Biblical themes in the poem to stress its religious intentions. The usage of the word ‘charge’ in the first line is strikingly reminiscent of the Creation story. The very mention of the word ‘charge’ leads the readers to think of light. The Book of Creation also mentions that the universe came into existence with a spark of light. Yet, the poet seems to convey that the Creation was not a onetime incident, but rather the Divine is renewing and reviving nature on a daily basis and is intimately connected with the designs of nature. Also the usage of the word ‘rod’ in the fourth line and the decrying of the nature of man to not to heed to His rod impart a deeper meaning to the poem by linking it to the Psalm of David. “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”. This perhaps refers to the looming spiritual crisis where humanity has lost touch with the all-powerful God and refuses to acknowledge His omnipotence, resorting to designs of one’s own.

Having done so, the poet proceeds to point at the temporary nature of human intentions and designs and unravels how humanity defiles and pollutes nature. The poet not only does so verbally but also exploits the apt metrical devices to underline the evanescence of human plans. The poem God’s Grandeur is in the sonnet form with its rhyme scheme being –abbaabba/cdcdcd-. This rhyme scheme is very unconventional marked by a heavy alliteration, where the stresses pop up over the over a background of plain, uncounted syllables. In this pounding of the syllables in the line “Generations have trod, have trod, have trod”, one could palpably have a feel of the continual passing and decaying of human designs and plans.
The last few lines reassert the fact that God is not out of control with an emotional ambiance marked by intense faith and optimism. The usage of the term “Holy Ghost” imbues the poem with supernatural overtones, finally establishing the ever-present, ever fresh and ever-victorious glory of God, which carries own with its eternal and timeless ways amidst the decay and change inherent in the ways of man. Thus the poet boldly claims that not only has God made creation, but is also ever-present in it, thereby pointing towards a scope for the renewal of the human soul.
In conclusion, God’s Grandeur is a deeply moving religious poem imbued with multiple divine themes. The poem decries the rot inherent in the ways of man while celebrating the immortality of the ways of God. It unravels the temporariness of human designs while leading to scope for renewal and hope.

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