How does Hopkins compare the grandeur of God with nature?

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The poem says that God's grandeur animates nature. The speaker compares this grandeur to two antithetical or opposite aspects of nature. First, he likens God's grandeur to the light that shines and flares out quickly when one shakes a piece of foil. In this image, God's grandeur reveals itself as...

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The poem says that God's grandeur animates nature. The speaker compares this grandeur to two antithetical or opposite aspects of nature. First, he likens God's grandeur to the light that shines and flares out quickly when one shakes a piece of foil. In this image, God's grandeur reveals itself as a shining light. The speaker then compares God's grandeur to an image opposite from that of light, by imagining it as a deep black oil that "gathers to a greatness." This is a slow image of the elements of nature gradually crushed together to form a deep, dark, powerful grandeur. Working together, these two images suggest several ways God's grandeur appears.

The speaker then compares these images to the way humankind has damaged nature. There is no grandeur in the smears and smudges humans have made on the earth through toiling at work and pursuing trade.

The poem ends by stating that no matter what humans do to the earth, nature keeps renewing itself ("is never spent"). Nature always reappears, renewed, like the sunrise, because the Holy Ghost protects it.

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Hopkins compares the greatness of God to nature by writing about the way in which nature regenerates itself continuously. In "God's Grandeur," Hopkins writes about the way in which people destroy the earth and ruin its beauty for a time. Human toil makes the soil bare and leaves its mark on the earth.

However, the earth regenerates itself, and nature comes back to life with freshness in the same way that the sun, which sets in the west each night, springs back in the east in the morning. Hopkins writes that this regrowth is possible only because of the presence of God. Just as nature is an amazing force that is capable of continual regeneration, so does God continue to live on, no matter what humans do. The power of God is eternal, just as nature is.

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The overall point of this poem is that nature is an example of God’s grandeur. The definition of grandeur is the quality of being grand or magnificent. This poem shows God’s grandeur in several ways. In the second and third lines, there are similes that compare God’s grandeur to nature. The first is “It will flame out, like shining from shook foil” (line 2). This refers to the sun shining on a piece of metal. God’s handiwork is so bright it almost blinds us. Then in line 3, the poet says, “It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed.” The poet is showing us how God’s greatness builds up and wells forth, like oil coming from the ground.

In the next several lines, the poet talks about the impact of man on nature. “And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; / And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell (line 6–7).” Man adversely affects the grandeur of God, according to these lines that talk about man “smudging” and “smelling” up nature. However, the poet says, “And for all this, nature is never spent; / There lives the dearest freshness deep down things” (line 10), which means that no matter how much of an impact man has on nature, nature still retains that freshness that comes from God.

In the last few lines of the poem, the poet is letting us know that God’s grandeur will always appear in nature, and he does this by showing us the metaphor of the sun going down—“And thought the last lights off the black West went” (line 11)— followed by the sun rising: “Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs" (line 12). Although it may seem bleak when the sun goes down, morning always comes to show us God’s grandeur in nature once again. “Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings” (line 13–14) is the last line of the poem, and it reassures the reader that the Holy Ghost, like a bird, will always watch over the world and give us something beautiful in nature to observe.

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