Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Hopkins’s ideas of inscape and instress seem to imply that every object in creation has something like a soul, that is, a power that points toward its divine creator. He begins “God’s Grandeur,” composed in 1877, with the assertion that the world as a whole has this inscape: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Though several senses of the word “charge” may be relevant in this statement, the primary sense seems to be of electric force. God is like an electric charge present in the world. This image is continued in the statement that this divine force “will flame out.” While conveying the idea of a lightning strike implicit in the image of an electrical charge, this new image also suggests the Pentecostal tongue of flame, which introduces one of the aspects of God’s presence in the world as the Holy Spirit, the idea with which the poet ends. Hopkins extends this idea into that of blinding light, another familiar biblical image associated with God, when he says that the flaming out of the grandeur of God is “like the shining of shook foil.” In a letter, Hopkins said that he was thinking of gold foil, which “gives off broad glares like sheet lightning and . . . owing to its zigzag dints and creasings and network of small many cornered facets, a sort of fork lightning too.” Other senses of foil may also enrich this image—for example, the idea of a sword, with its suggestions of challenge and judgment. The next image compares...
(The entire section is 1024 words.)
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