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In his poem, “God’s Grandeur,” Gerald Manley Hopkins uses many poetic devices. He is credited with the invention of “sprung rhythm” which is 3 to 4 syllables per foot, and the accent is always placed on the same syllable. He uses similes, “like shook foil” or “like oozed oil.” Alliteration is also used in “grandeur of God,” “gathers to a greatness,” “brown brink eastward,” and etc. Repetition is used in terms of words, “have trod, have trod, have trod,” and sounds (rhymes) “seared…bleared, smeared…” Rhyme is also used with the in rhyme, “seared…bleared, smeared…,” and the rhyme scheme used because it is a Petracharn sonnet: ABBAABBA / CDCDCD
You might check out the attached e-notes link for some helpful information.
"God's Grandeur" is dense with poetic devices. Hopkins, for example, uses assonance and alliteration. In assonance, words beginning with the same vowel appear in the same line or in close proximity; in this poem, the "ooze of oil" in the first stanza is an example of assonance. In alliteration, words beginning with same consonant appear close together. "God's Grandeur" offers a build-up of alliterations. They include "shining" and "shook" and "reck" and rod" and "smear ... smudge ... smell" among others in the first stanza before building to a crescendo at the end of the second stanza. Here the reader experiences a glorious piling up of alliterations: "dearest ... deep down," and in the last three lines "brown brink ... because ... bent ...broods ...breast .. .bright" and as if that were not enough: "world ... warm ... wings."
While assonance and alliteration harken back to medieval and Anglo-Saxon poetry, Hopkins also uses rhyming words, more typical of Victorian poetry, to establish a rhythm: in stanza one he builds up a series of internal rhymes to express the drudgery of the fallen world-"seared ... bleared ... smeared," as well as ending rhymes: "rod," "trod" and "shod" rhyme, as do "soil" and "toil." The repetition of "trod ... trod ...trod" in this stanza mimics the rhythm of endless repeated labor.
Rhyming words at the end of lines also animate the second stanza: "spent ... went ... bent" and "things ... springs ... wings."
The poem is also full of imagery or words that use the five senses. A major image Hopkins employs is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of God that Hopkins says protects the earth. Hopkins imagines the Holy Spirit as a bird bending over the earth with warm breast and bright wings. We can feel and see this.
Referring to the Holy Spirit as a bird is also an example of an allusion. An allusion is a device that harkens back to an earlier poem or literary work. In the Bible, when the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus, this spirit is described as like a dove or a bird.
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