Discussion Topic

Themes of divinity and resilience in Gerard Manley Hopkins' "God's Grandeur"

Summary:

In "God's Grandeur," Gerard Manley Hopkins explores themes of divinity and resilience by depicting the omnipresence of God's greatness in nature and its enduring strength despite human neglect. The poem emphasizes that, despite humanity's destructive impact, the natural world, imbued with divine grandeur, continuously renews itself, reflecting both the resilience of nature and the ever-present power of God.

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When does God display his greatness in Gerard Manley Hopkins' "God's Grandeur"?

According to Hopkins, God shows his greatness or grandeur everywhere in the world. Wherever we look, he is there. He's even in the soil beneath our feet as we tread upon it. Indeed, nature as a whole is deeply imbued with the divine presence. ("There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.")

Yet all too often we ignore God's presence, treating the beautiful natural world that he has created for us as if it were nothing more than an object to be used and exploited. A prime example comes in man's abuse of the environment. Successive generations have trod upon the soil, changing the landscape forever, leaving behind outward signs of work and toil.

But because we no longer walk upon the soil in our bare feet but wear shoes instead—"nor can foot feel, being shod"—the ancient connection between man and divine nature has been broken. As such, men no longer see God in his creation. They no longer "reck his rod"; that is to say, they have long since stopped paying heed to God's power as expressed in his creation.

He created this wonderful world for us, deeply infused as it is with his divinity wherever we look, and yet we've spoiled it by treating it as an object of exploitation without realizing that we are turning away from God by doing so. But all is not lost. For whatever happens, the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost, will brood over the world each and every morning. Even if we've turned our backs on God, God still hasn't—and won't—turn his back on us. He will remain forever present in his creation.

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Why is nature never spent in Gerard Manley Hopkins' "God's Grandeur"?

Gerard Manley Hopkins, in this poem, is praising the continual rebirth of nature and the fact that it displays God's creation and His "dearest freshness." In stating that nature is never "spent," he means, essentially, that it can never run out of this quality which makes it what it is, namely, God's grandeur. Nature does not flower and then run out of flowers. On the contrary, the flowers that die in winter will return in the spring, much as God's grandeur remains on the earth in perpetuity.

Hopkins explains that the Holy Ghost "broods" over the world eternally, his "warm breast" and "bright wings" ensuring that nature will never be "spent." Despite the fact that generations have toiled upon the earth, tilling the soil, treading it down, and often failing to recognize the glory and power of God, nature itself remains unconquered and is sustained by the presence of that Holy Ghost which created it in the first place and which continues to give it strength and succor.

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Why is nature never spent in Gerard Manley Hopkins' "God's Grandeur"?

In Hopkin's poem "God's Grandeur" the first line of the second stanza states, "And for all this, nature is never spent".  The meaning of the word spent in context of this line means: worn out.

Therefore, the power of nature, given God's power, is unlimited. Nature, according to Hopkins, has the ability to regenerate itself over and over again. The world "will flame out" and "gather to a greatness". Nature, unlike the generations of men who "have trod, have trod, have trod", is able to shine again at morning even though the world sees nothing but darkness at night.

Basically what Hopkins is saying is that regardless of what man does, no matter how hard he toils, he is unlike nature- he is mortal in a sense. Nature, because of God, is immortal- able to survive the footprint of mankind's generations.

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