How does Hopkins compare the grandeur of God with nature?

Expert Answers
lusie0520 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

Read the study guide:
God's Grandeur

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question