Homework Help

Compare and contrast the structure & poetic elements of Elizabeth Barrett...

user profile pic

rts-18 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:32 AM via web

dislike 3 like

Compare and contrast the structure & poetic elements of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43" and Gerald Manley Hopkins "Gods Grandeur."

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 21, 2010 at 4:14 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

While both "Sonnet 43" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and "God's Grandeur" by Gerald Manley Hopkins are Petrachan, or Italian sonnets, Hopkins's sonnet more closely follows the structure of such sonnets.  For, in Browning's sonnet the problem is posed in the first line of the octave, but the answers begin with the second line rather than beginning the sestet.  But, in Hopkins's sonnet, the traditional form is followed with the octave presenting the problem of people ignoring God's grandeur continues throughout the octave and is not solved until the sestet in which Hopkins writes of how "Nature is never spent." Hopkins writes that man is spent from trying to save the men from the "smudge and shares man's smell."  In the sestest,  there is hope in the morning that "at the brown brink eastward springs" and " the bright wings" of the Holy Ghost that flies over Nature that is "never spent," giving hope to the reader for renewal.

Also, in contrast to the sonnet of Hopkins, Browning's includes almost no imagery.  Sonnet 43 has almost no sensory imagery; instead the poet relies upon other abstractions: "The ends of Being" or "ideal Grace." And, because of this reliance upon no sensory imagery, the repetition of "I love thee" becomes even more important. On the other hand "God's Grandeur" is explicit because of its imagery:  "flame out," greatness, "like the ooze of oil/Crushed!"

While the rhythm of Barrett's sonnet is regular, Hopkins varies his.  Lines 10-12, for instance are compressed and have an unusual grammatical structure. In Hopkins's lines, there is a variance from 5-6 stresses. Hopkins also varies from the traditional abbba,abba, cde,cde rhyme scheme as his last three lines have the rhyme ded, as do the last three of Browning's sonnet. 

Miss Browning employs repetition and parallelism in her lines, while Hopkins delights in alliteration and assonance.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes