What are some poetic devices used in the poem "God's Grandeur"? Please refer to the poem for evidence.

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“God’s Grandeur” (1877) is packed to the seams with literary and poetic devices, but there are two kinds of techniques into which I’ll delve in particular. The first of these has to do with inventions in form. As you may know, Gerard Manley Hopkins was known for his experiments with...

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“God’s Grandeur” (1877) is packed to the seams with literary and poetic devices, but there are two kinds of techniques into which I’ll delve in particular. The first of these has to do with inventions in form. As you may know, Gerard Manley Hopkins was known for his experiments with poetic meter. Though “God’s Grandeur,” is a Shakespearian sonnet—a 14-line poem in iambic pentameter—Hopkins often deviates from the beat, as we see in the following example:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? (lines 1–4)

In an iamb, the syllable sounds occur in a characteristic heartbeat pattern, with a short syllable followed by a longer syllable, such as in the phrase “the WORLD” (Capitalization added for emphasis). A line in which this beat or metrical foot repeats five times is said to follow an iambic pentameter. If we look at the poem’s first stanza above, Hopkins breaks from the iambic pentameter twice.

In the expression “SHOOK FOIL” in the second line, two stressed syllables follow each other. This is an instance of a spondaic beat and it shakes the lulling iambic pattern, adding a surprising note of freshness, much like the flash of light which bounces off a shook foil.

Similarly, the third line stretches into a twelve-syllabic hexameter, as if to mime the very “ooze of oil” it speaks about. Further, the line spills over into the fourth and ends abruptly with the word “crushed,” which is an example of yet another literary device, the enjambment.

The cascading effect of the varying beats, meters, and stops is that the poem manages to startle and awe, despite its formal structure. In this it mimics its subject, which is the grandeur of nature and god, full of patterns and disruptions. The breaks in rhyme also represent what Hopkins himself called “sprung rhythm,” which is a rhythm freed or sprung from constricting form. In his innovations with rhyme, Hopkins heavily influenced modern poets such as T. S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas.

The second characteristic innovation we see in the poem is Hopkins’ experiments with sound. Hopkins meant his poems to be read aloud, and crafted sound effects that illustrated his poetic themes. In “God’s Grandeur,” not only do we see several examples of alliteration (“shining from shook foil,” "reck his rod," “foot feel”) and assonance (“seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil”), but also of onomatopoeia and anaphora. Onomatopoeic words like “ooze” replicate the movement of the oil, while “trod” mimics heavy footfall. The anaphora or repetition occurs in the line:

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod (line 6)

Again, the effect the anaphora creates is of earth ground down by the footprints and industry of men, which is in sharp contrast to nature’s refreshing, regenerating influence. Thus, the poem's stark rises and falls embody nature's fight to overcome man's colonization of earth.

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The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

Metaphor - The working of God's power in his creation is likened to an enormous electrical charge. This is no mere abstraction; it courses through the world in which we live, the air that we breathe, and the ground on which we walk.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.

Simile - Hopkins shows us how this charge will spread through God's creation, energizing it.

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil/Crushed.

Simile again, but also Alliteration - Hopkins repeats the 'g' sound of the title and opening line.

Why do men then now not reck his rod?

As well as alliteration again, we also have a rhetorical question—"Reck" means "recognize," or "acknowledge"; "Rod" refers to God's divine authority. Hopkins wants to know why so many of us don't look around and acknowledge the kinetic power and presence of God in our world, why we don't honor Him in His creation. As with all rhetorical questions, it forces us to ask something of ourselves.

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod.

Repetition - This emphasizes the long, slow passing of time. And also Assonance, using the 'o' vowel to slow down the rhythm to an appropriate level.

 And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell . . . 

Consonance - The repetition of the 'm' consonant expresses the mark that successive generations of men have had upon the soil.

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent 
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
There is alliteration aplenty here as Hopkins ends the poem. As well as the strong insistence of the "b" sound, we have the delightful whisper of the "w" beautifully conveying the hushed sense of awe that Hopkins wants us to feel towards the rising sun shedding light once more upon the grandeur of God's creation.

 

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"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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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.

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