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“Hopkins’ poetry does not show any grasp of the concerns of the

everyday person. In fact, his poetry is outdated”


In your answer consider Hopkins’ ideas, techniques, and the
reception in different contexts. You should discuss three of Hopkins’
poems.

Hopkins’ poetry shows the responder eternal messages that correspond to everyday
life and its experiences. This is because Hopkins uses various devices of language and
a wide array of themes which appeal to undisturbed human nature. For example, there
are contrasts of happiness and sorrow, along with observations of nature and our
ultimate relation to it. This allows the responders to not only relate, but also to engage
in what Hopkins presents. In addition, Hopkins’ poetry is not outdated. Everyone will
know the eternal issues raised and will always influence the chain of thought. Three
of Hopkins’ poems which demonstrate concern of the everyday person are: “Gods
Grandeur”, “Binsley Poplars” and “No worst, there is none”. Furthermore, two
articles which show his present relevance (and hence not outdated) are: “She rears
herself: Feminist possibilities in Hopkins’ poetry” by Lesley Higgins and “Gerard
Manley Hopkins: a legacy to the twentieth century” by Elaine Murphy.

In the poem “God’s Grandeur”, Hopkins does show grasps that concern the everyday
person by exploring God’s loved presence in nature and the immense destruction of
the relationship with god. The themes that arise in this poem relate to our lives in one
way or another by linking the beauty of nature, our progression yet our regression
with God. Hopkins firstly explores God’s presence in the natural world which is
further amplified of its greatness with use of emotive words such as ‘grandeur’. Also,
the opening line ‘the world is charged with the grandeur of God’ declares what is to
be understood as God’s world in which we find beauty of natural observations and in
what we ‘trod’ on.
Secondly, Hopkins begins the descent to man’s careless destruction of nature and
hence the failure to connect with God and see his message. It is the asking of a
rhetorical question (‘why do men then now not reck his rod?’) which addresses it onto
the responder, who is responsible for the destruction of the connection with
symbolised God (‘rod’). With this, the responder is left to think, and Hopkins
recognises our ‘trade’ of ‘seared’, ‘bleared’ and ‘smeared’. It is with this we are
reassured of our habit of treading, smudging and spoiling nature. Further observations
follow on, and the abrupt flatness and lands limit is connected to our feet, our walking
(‘is bare now, nor can foot feel…’).
The observation of something grand and ‘charged’ is applied to human senses, and we
are to see these observations all around us, as a part of life and nature. Whether it be a
man from primordial time, or a man of everyday, observations drive humans thought,
and the extent of beauty withheld in such vast quantity is what we have instilled our
‘smudge’ and ‘smell’. However, the divergent view is shown when humans ‘trod’ and
the responder is bought to awareness. This awareness is vital for the understanding the
damage carelessly performed by each and every one of us, consciously or
subconsciously. It is the breakage of a relationship with nature and hence god himself
that affects our grasp of the meaning of our lives. It is therefore evident that by
writing a poem on the beauty of the world hence god and the vital relationship with
god, Hopkins does show a grasp for the concern of the everyday person.
In the poem ‘Binsley Poplars’, Hopkins does show a grasp of the concerns of the
everyday person by exploring universal concern for nature and how it is responsible
to individuals. Hopkins shows themes such as nature and the fragility, or in our case
the beauty from the fragility found in small yet powerful movements. It also connects
this to warning, that we receive when something bad is happening, or is about to
happen. Hopkins initially observes the frail and ‘quelled’ nature, particularly the
Poplar trees. The one observation of the trees is so highly regarded, Hopkins uses
personification (‘quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun’) to affect their image
of neglect and survival. The observation is of the moving leaves, alongside the water
that ‘shadow that swam or sank’ (contrast). Even though this is image is admired,
there is a sense of lament from Hopkins. This lament is signalled with the use of
repetition and monosyllables in ‘all felled, felled, are all felled’.
After the volta (or turn of the next theme), Hopkins declares his concern of this
destroyed nature and hence mans ignorance in doing so. In a way, it is the concern of
the future (‘after-comers’). Again, the fragility is being referred to (‘country so
tender’) yet it’s a sense of warning to what we ignorantly and easily (‘ten or
twelve…’) do without looking back. The main feature used to direct this to people is
the use of first person in ‘O if we but knew what we do’. It allows the direction to the
person reading and also to ever-changing humanity.
The everyday person cannot be distinctly defined, as humans share different
characteristics. However, the characteristics remain unchanged and can always be
divided between common characteristics. This common division allows at least a
fairly common path to thought. “Binsley Poplars” is the ultimate observation of
touched nature but at the same time the warning and popular comparison to humans
and human pain. Nature is common in all ways, and so is pain and mourn over all
things that are cared about. Hence, the themes conveyed in “Binsley Poplars” are
consequently related to the emotions and observations of the everyday person.

In the poem “No Worst, there is none”, Hopkins does show a grasp of the concerns of
the everyday person by exploring the theme of human emotion and character. Themes
explored rely on Hopkins’ personal despair and his will to explore depths of its
consumption yet retaining the limits of human character: the highs and the lows.
Without pause, Hopkins starts with the words ‘no worst’ setting the grounds of
negativity and stillness. It is the comfort he searches for, in depths of the biblical
references through symbolism of a medium of the world (‘on an age old anvil wince
and sing’). However, his cries are ‘pitched past pitch of grief’, in a way continuing
further and further (alliteration), bound by the force of rejection. It is finally labelled
intense (‘forepangs’), and universal (‘world-sorrow’).
Following this, contrasts to minds ‘mountains’ and the thought’s ‘cliffs’ which result
in the fall and an array of thought. The exploration of human character and the search
for the reasoning behind this varying distress is the main aim of this theme, and
Hopkins conveys this with his weakness in life, yet asking for the responder to
experience it for themselves, with a sense of empathy (‘durance deal with that steep or
deep’).
The areas of human emotions and their power to consume over us are unknown and
instinctual for all. Hopkins experiences moments of his despair, sharp pains
(‘forepangs’). The empathy he puts forward is there for the responder to feel, or try to
feel as Hopkins view towards this is puzzled, and he cannot comprehend the fact
largeness of our own emotions. Humans have instinctive right is to feel and express
our emotions, separating us from the division. Yet, the consumption of it can be so
great that the division is lost between depths of highs and lows. Emotions do not only
concern the everyday person, from a daily basis, but every human from now on to the
time before.
Hopkins’ poetry does show the concerns of the everyday person as previously
discussed, but at the same time succeeds in analysis through modern ideas such as
feminism and the important things Hopkins has left behind for the 20th century. It is
seen in the variant readings “She rears herself” by Lesley Higgins and “Gerard
Manley Hopkins: a legacy to the twentieth century” by Elaine Murphy.
Feminism is the modern movement which occurred from the nineteen sixties and to
which it still continues today. Its main aim (in Hopkins’ poetry) is the
‘comprehension, dramatisation and dissemination of absolute truths’. As seen in the
feminist reading, the composer is able to search and hence explore modern thoughts
still surviving in the 20th and 21st century. The feminist reading sets and argument in
which realms of ‘womanisation’, and proof to how Hopkins, whether intentionally or
unintentionally, set examples of women in his poetry. This is seen in the exploration
of ‘linguistic dexterity’, where interestingly we see Hopkins’ ‘need to mark gender
differences and to invoke female signs to express weakness, anxiety or instability’.
This is evidently seen in “Binsley Poplars” in the use of female Mother Nature being
so fragile (‘since country is so tender’). It is the discovery of this that shows modern
understanding of modern concepts applied to poetry more than a hundred years old.
Flowingly, masculine texts were also introduced by the feministic reading. For
example, “Hurrahing in Harvest” is an extremely masculine text, with reference to the
summertime and its ‘barbarous beauty’. Suggestively, Hopkins has retained
stereotyping of women, and the amplification of masculinity in the Victorian times,
while allowing flexible room to investigate the effect of his time era on our current
era, with different ways of valid interpretations. Lastly, the argument of whether his
‘manliness’ was forced and the opposite of his poetry was undertaken arises. As we
see, Hopkins uses the strict guidelines of the Italian sonnet, follows the celibate life of
a priest and gives up his literature and expression to go through the severe order of
Jesuits. It is ironic to see his writings so feministic, yet his life so ordered by that very
fact of it. Hence, the information presented to responders, researchers and analysts
still continues to be understood, and the ideas presented give its value, even at the
present age.
Legacy is the word used to describe Hopkins valued poetry along with his ‘power and
profound’. The introduction in the article of appreciation is the praise of his daring yet
underappreciated dynamics of his poetry. The despair is felt of the ignorance of his
strength in the past but is renewed with the current century, proclaiming the 20th
century the deserved period of finding Hopkins’ greatness. The aspect of outdate in
Hopkins poetry does not occur as suggested by this article but along with its ways of
expression in themes and techniques will be forever admired, and the gratitude will
always be given to him. In advance, views of his techniques and inspiration are
further discussed. It is seen through the in-depth discoveries of inscape and instress
that shaped his poetry and influence yet reached the conclusion of ‘unreadable’ in that
time period. His inspiration came from the heart of himself, but further from his
religion (Catholicism which did not popularly fit within England Victorian times)
which is the main spark of his recurring rejection unfairly through his life. While
there is the sadness of his misunderstood and ‘unreadable’ work in the Victorian era,
we can live and learn to appreciate the presence of the poetry and maintain its
longevity of more than a 100 years.
Even though his poetry was disregarded and scrutinised, Hopkins still survived in the
current century, with applaud from modern writers and interpretation from modern
ideas. In other words, Hopkins’ poetry stays young, and hence not outdated.

Hopkins’ poetry was a beautiful and yet only recently understood product of Hopkins.
It still teaches us the world’s mechanisms while relating to us in many ways. As
demonstrated, Hopkins’ poetry does show a grasp of the concerns of the everyday
person and his poetry is not outdated. This was evidently seen through poems such as
“God’s Grandeur”, “Binsley Poplars” and “No Worst, There is None” where themes
of god, nature and human emotion were concerned and related to the everyday person.
Moreover, the articles by Elaine Higgins and Lesley Murphy showed strong modern
interpretations of ideas such as Feminism and at the same time labelled Hopkins as
the legacy to the 20th century and beyond. With the above evidence, relations,
comparisons and so forth Hopkins and his poetry importantly can be seen as concern
for ourselves, and understood through the eyes of a modern audience while retaining
its longevity of more than a 100 years of unprecedented progress only recently
discovered. As Gerard Manley Hopkins said: “The poetical language of an age should
be the current language heightened.”