Compare and contrast the structure and poetic elements of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43" and Gerard Manley Hopkins' "God's Grandeur."
Both "How do I Love Thee" and "God's Grandeur" are sonnets, poems of 14 lines. Both use rhyming words at the end of lines: Barrett Browning uses word pairs such as "height" and "sight" or "light" and "right," while Hopkins uses words such as "foil" and "oil." Both split their sonnets into two parts: the first part eight is lines, the last six. Hopkins actually breaks his poem with a space after line eight to indicate a pause. Browning indicates the shift by a change in her rhyme scheme from rhyming couplets to ABAB rhymes.
Hopkins is more innovative in his use of language, relying heavily on alliteration and assonance for rhythmic effect. Alliteration means using the same consonant repeatedly at the start of words grouped near each other. This repetition creates a rhythmic effect and draws attention to the alliterative words; assonance does the same with words beginning with vowels. Hopkins's alliteration builds to a crescendo as the poem progresses, ending on the following "br" words: "broods," "breast," and "bright." The heavy use of alliteration in "God's Grandeur" harkens back to medieval and Old English poetry, as does Hopkins willingness to break up the measured 10 beat-per-line rhythm of a traditional sonnet. This gives his sonnet a raw, jagged power. "How do I Love Thee," in contrast, with its even, measured 10-beat lines and reliance on end rhymes is reminiscent of a Shakespearean sonnet of the Renaissance.
Both poems--“Sonnet 43” and “God’s Grandeur” are love poems. “Sonnet 43” is a love poem toward the narrator’s lover, and “God’s Grandeur,” written when Hopkins was a priest, is a poem showing the narrator’s love for God and his creations. Both poems have standard sonnet rhyme schemes of: abba/cdcdcd
In addition, the authors of both have used repetition for effect. Browning to show the narrators devotion and Hopkins to help illustrate the casual disregard the common man has for God’s creation. Alliteration and internal rhyme have been used to heighten the sound effect of the poems as they are read.
“Sonnet 43” is an optimistic and simple homage to a lover, but it is deep in its intensity. "God's Grandeur" is a little bleaker as it addresses the way in which man is destroying the world because he does not appreciate the grandeur that surrounds him. However, the final part of the sonnet is more optimistic as Hopkins’s believes the magnificence and power of God will overcome.