These lessons resonate soundly with modern readers who, due to increased awareness and education, tend to be more concerned with conservation than the poets’ contemporary readership. In ‘Binges Poplars’ the poet laments the loss of the poplars that grew along the banks of the Thames, from Oxford to the small village of Binges which were felled in 1879. The poem is a dirge, an elegy for a landscape that Hopkins had known intimately while studying at Oxford, and thus its loss was keenly felt. The poem opens with “My aspens dear… The excessive pronoun “MY’ and the adjective “dear” capture from the outset the poet’s sense of extreme personal loss – his cherished and beloved trees are now “All felled, felled, are all felled. ” This dramatic line, with its repetition of the pronoun “All” and the verb “felled” is powerful in its sense of grief and sorrow. “All” is an absolute term, and the triple structure combined with the monosyllabic words creates almost an onomatopoeic effect, the accented syllabic reminiscent of the devastating repeated blows of an axe.
Further, the alliterative f’ sound in “Of a fresh and following folded ann.” sounds crisp and energetic – alive, like the trees. In addition, the personification of the trees effectively depicts them as if they are marching in formation – tall, dignified and proud – which makes the following line all the more distressing as they are: “Not spared, not one,” likening them to an entire army of soldiers obliterated. The repetition of the absolute determiner “Not” intensifies Hopkins’ sense of complete and utter destruction and devastation at the senseless massacre of the trees.
The message is clarified in: “After-comers cannot guess the beauty been. /Ten r twelve, only ten or twelve/Strokes of havoc unsolved. ” The poet states that the loss of these trees affects not only the present but also the future. The heavy plosive alliteration of “beauty been,” effectively captures a sense of finality – the loss is irrevocable. Furthermore, the adverb “only’ in “only ten or twelve” shows how quickly and easily we, humanity, can forever destroy the beauty of nature.
The metaphorical “Strokes of havoc” is highly reminiscent of torture as one envisages lashes of a whip, an extraordinarily painful punishment inflicted on the innocent trees. The noun “havoc” is suggestive of chaos and disorder, and the employment of such highly emotive diction forces the reader to see the injustice, the criminality of such wanton destruction. Additionally as some critics have noted, the verb “unsolved” represents the idea of ‘selling – Hopkins’ view that the very being of a natural object is an expression of God.
To “unsolved” thus reflects that even a slight alteration can cause a thing to cease to be what it most essentially is; thus, the whole countryside is ‘unsolved’ by the loss of the trees, ceasing to be what God intended. Through the poet’s personal and dramatic portrayal of his loss, the reader is able to appreciate the importance of conservation – nature is more than Just trees, it is spiritual and wondrous and should be cherished and valued as an expression of God.
Wordsmith’s ‘Uniting,’ presents a recount of an experience from the poet’s childhood where an innocent ‘Uniting adventure turns into an experience which teaches the poet a valuable and lasting lesson. The day began as “heavenly’ and this powerful adjective immediately creates a magical and otherworldly feel to the situation. The ay sets off with his “uniting crook in hand” and “sallies[s]” forth in search of hazelnuts. The verb “sallied” immediately sets a very purposeful tone, as if the boy is setting out on a noble quest or mission, almost reminiscent of a fairytale hero.
However, he is described as “force[ins] [his] way’ through the woods until he reaches a “dear nook/Unvisited. ” The verb “forced” has connotations of him imposing himself on his surroundings in a way that is overbearing and unwanted. The “Unvisited” nook is pristine – virginal perfection, “where not a broken bough/Drop’s with its withered eaves. ” Rather the “hazels rose/Tall and erect, with milk-white clusters hung. ” The verb “rose” and the adjectives “tall” and “erect” make the trees seem strong, noble and proud, similar to the initial presentation of the trees in ‘Binges Poplars. The “milk-white clusters” are symbolic of purity and innocence, contributing to his excited exclamation: “A virgin scene! ” The boy stands transfixed, “Breathing with such suppression of the heart/ As Joy delights in. ” The “heart” is the symbolic centre of all emotion and thus his actively “suppress[De]” breathing, exacerbated by the intensifier “such” captures his almost disturbing level of excitement with regard to the purity of this scene. He initially banquet” with “wise restraint. This metaphor presents the scene as a whole as a delicious feast, the prospect of which he is savoring, captured in the adjective “wise” and noun “restraint,” which make it sound like it is an effort for him to maintain control, like the temptation may soon overpower him – at this point, however, the reader has no idea that nature as a pure and divine force has ignited his insatiable desire to control and tame it. He savors he scene for as long as possible before finally succumbing to his rapacious primal urges.
Suddenly he takes action, presented though the purposeful short monosyllabic clause: “Then up I rose. ” The line break after “rose” is effective in delaying the reader slightly to further heighten the horror which the boy is about to unleash on the scene. He “drag[s] to earth both branch and bough” and “merciless[lye] ravage[s]” the entire scene. The verb “drag” is similar to the earlier verb “forced” which in hindsight foreshadows this display of destruction, dominance and devastation.
The hard alliterative ‘b’ sound in “both branch and bough” has a similar effect as the repetition of “all” and “felled” in Hopkins’ ‘Binges Poplars’ in the sense that the repeated plosive captures the destruction in an auditory manner, like the sound of repeated blows. The adjective “merciless” and the noun “ravage” are also reminiscent of Hopkins’ poem in his presentation of the trees as an obliterated army, “Not spared, not one. ” The boy attacks and wreaks havoc on the trees without mercy.
The scene is now “deformed and sullied” beyond recognition, and has “patiently’ succumbed its “quiet being” to his attack. The adjective “sullied” has connotations of defilement – he has damaged the purity of the scene. The adverb “patiently’ and adjective “quiet” are poignant in that they capture the inherent tranquility of this scene, abused and tainted by the boys rapacious desire to destroy – the innocence of mother nature has been defiled.
Although some critics have suggested that this poem is about the figurative rape of a maiden, it seems rather that the presentation of the boys destruction as a sexual violation is intended to heighten the sense of horror and brutality evoked in the reader. Wordsmith’s presentation of the boys violent attack on the scene contains a clear warning about how we interact with our surroundings in terms of prompting a horrified reaction from the reader. The boys ‘rape’ of the scene is supposed to shock and appall us, so that we are forced to consider the way that we ourselves interact with nature.
The structure and form of ‘Binges Poplars’ is also significant in helping to communicate Hopkins message about preservation. The poem contains two irregular stanzas of eight and sixteen lines respectively and its unique shape has been interpreted by mom readers as reminiscent of a tree’s shadow “On meadow and river. ” It certainly has a meandering quality which is indicative of the tranquility, comfort and shade provided by the trees and thus heightens our sense of their loss.
Hopkins employs sprung rhythm, in which each poetic foot includes at least one stressed syllable and a varying number of unstressed ones; this form gives Hopkins poetry more elastics than traditional metric schemes while affording it a form not available in free verse. The indentations and overall shape of ‘Binges Poplars,’ especially in the first stanza, suggest the number of stresses in each line. More specifically, the first stanza is a focused presentation of the tragedy of the loss of these trees that “dandled a canalled/Shadow that swam or sank/On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding/bank. The internal rhyme, sibilance and alliteration collectively create an image of the trees that is calm, protective and serene due to the softness of the repeated consonants and the pleasant, easy rhythm of “dandled a canalled. ” Furthermore, the verb “dandled,” which has connotations of fondly bouncing a baby contributes to this sense of unhurried tranquility. The run on lines, compound word updated conjunction “and” and lack of punctuation again contribute to this meandering feel, as if the trees’ branches are reaching out, casting their playful and protective shadows across “meadow and river. The second stanza chastises humanity for its destructive impact on nature, opening with the monosyllabic lament “O if we but knew what we do. ” The inclusive pronoun “we,” the cry “O” and the collective personal responsibility which is emphasized by the condemnatory internal rhyme of “knew’ and “do” is not only mournful but also full of grief and regret – regret in the sense that this loss was totally needless.
The poet’s message is also presented through the personification of nature as both a young girl and an eyeball. She (nature) is “so tender/To touch, her being so slender. ” The repeated intensifier “so” combined with the soft alliterative t’ sound, the sibilance of “so slender” and its internal rhyme with “tender” makes nature seem supremely delicate and in need of protection, which is not dissimilar to the presentation of nature in ‘Uniting. The unusual metaphor that compares the effect of cutting down the trees to pricking an eyeball is significant in that the eye, which is such a miraculous instrument of sight, an be rendered functionless with Just one prick, Just as ten or twelve hacks deprive the rural scene of its identity – the beautiful incase of the Binges waterway is ‘unsolved’ by the felling of the poplars. Finally, the last three lines celebrate the beauty and tranquility of the “sweet especial rural scene” before the trees were felled in 1879. The adjectives “sweet,” “especial” and “rural,” and the noun “scene” are repeated over the last three lines. Sweet” has connotations of simplicity and innocence, and “especial” makes nature’s beauty seem quite remarkable. The “rural scene” conjures up picturesque images of an untouched and untainted countryside, not unlike that presented in Wordsmith’s ‘Uniting. ‘ The soft sibilant sounds in conjunction with the repetition have a mournful longing quality, the poet’s final lamentation and expression of grief for what we all have lost. Thus, the poem’s structure and form is successful in presenting Hopkins’ message that we must preserve and protect nature, for ourselves and for the future.
Likewise, the structure and form of ‘Uniting is also successful in its contribution to the poet’s message. The impel title depicts an activity, collecting nuts, which actually turns into quite a profound and enlightening personal experience for the speaker. It is a blank verse allegory, a self-contained narrative which is autobiographical: “it arose out of the remembrance of feelings I often had when a boy, and particularly in the extensive woods. ” It is comprised of one long stanza followed by a final trace, which succinctly captures the poet’s key message about how to interact with nature.
The first stanza begins, as A. ] Bennett noted, as if emerging from silence, following an extended indent: “It seems a day… This opening has a whimsical nostalgic tone, as if the speaker is recalling an experience which is dear to him – it is not until later, however, that we learn to appreciate exactly why this day was so memorable. The narrative of the long stanza simply follows the boys progress, employing quite relaxed syntax until the point where he turns on the scene, with the aforementioned abrupt, “Then up I rose. Following that, the syntax changes, becoming more frenzied due to the employment of violent diction such as “drag” and “crash” as well as being predominantly monosyllabic, which is effective in increasing the pace of the onslaught. The mood changes again in the wake of the boys destruction, as he, even in his triumph, begins to feel guilt and remorse for his actions. The poet is unsure whether he is “confound[ins] [his] present feelings with the past,” which shows that his actions on that day and the associated feelings have had a lasting impact on him.
He feels that “Even then,” when he turned away, he felt his triumph, “Exulting rich beyond the wealth of kings,” quickly turn to something much more powerful – he felt “a sense of pain when [he] beheld/The silent trees and the intruding sky. ” The citreous diction of the verb “Exulting,” the adjective “rich” and the nouns “wealth” and “kings” which are highly celebratory are sharply in contrast with the grim reality he then faces, captured through the forbidding diction of “pain,” “silent” and “intruding. The personification of the trees and sky has a distinct air of disapproval, judgment, condemnation – and the boy feels guilt and remorse for giving in to his insatiable urge to destroy. There is a sense of foreboding, as if the boys actions will have far reaching consequences – which they do, as presented in the concluding trace. It is now revealed that this narrative has been related to an unknown listener, who is then encouraged to “move along these shades/in gentleness of heart with gentle hand. ” Rather than a prohibition, as suggested by critic John J.
Butler, these lines seem more like an invitation, an invitation for the “dearest maiden” whom he addresses to partake of the woods, to enjoy them, but not to disturb them. The imperative verb “move” is encouraging in tone. The respective noun and adjective “gentleness” and “gentle” are the poet’s guiding words – he has learnt a valuable lesson which he wishes to share with her. The symbolic reference to “heart” is indicative of our feelings towards nature, in the sense that we should value nature in an emotional and spiritual sense, as an entity which should be treated with respect, similar to the sentiments presented by Hopkins. Gentle hand” is a reference to how we interact with nature; how we must take care not to negatively assert our dominance over it in a way that is undesirable. The final line begins with another imperative verb: “Touch, – ” which is followed by both a comma and a dash, which creates an extended pause which allows the reader to let the word, with its soft t,’ indicative of lightness, gentleness, caresses, sink in – returning us to the initial reverence and wise restraint that had been practiced without understanding.
Now the poet fully understands the respect and moderation required of them in their dealings with nature. The final clause, “for there is a Spirit in the woods,” again presents nature as a spiritual entity, which is further pronounced due to the capitalization of “Spirit” which makes nature seem ‘alive,’ mystical and enigmatic. Similar to the ideas presented by Hopkins, the structure and form of ‘Uniting is successful in teaching us to see nature as a pure and divine force which should be treated with great care and consideration.
Further effective features employed by Hopkins in ‘Binges Poplars’ are his use of forceful verbs, rhyme and punctuation. A fine example is exemplified in the lines “O if we but knew what we do/When we delve or hew – Hack and rack the growing green! ” The harsh monosyllabic verbs “delve,” “hew,” “hack” and “rack” are indicative of not only man’s destructive influence, but also carry torturous connotations, emphasized further by the internal rhyme of Hack” and “rack. Furthermore, the poet’s placement of “Hack” at the beginning of the line places more emphasis on this violent and vehement verb which has connotations of a frenzied and bloody attack which he applies to the fate of the Binges Poplars, thus effectively condemning their obliteration. The use of the dash following “hew’ before the line break is effective in creating an extended pause, which also contributes to the additional emphasis placed on the violent verb “Hack. ” The exclamation mark following the alliterative “growing green! Is effective in upturning the poet’s indignation with regard to the loss of the trees. The verb “growing,” presented in the continuous tense reminds the reader of the fact that nature is not inanimate – it is alive and thus it is sinful to destroy it. Additionally, the adjective “green” is symbolic of health, life, growth and vitality. Clearly this is a poem that examines nature from an ecological point of view. The often heartless industrialization of the nineteenth century prompted Hopkins and others to contemplate what was being lost to cutting and clearing.
Hopkins notes how quickly ND unexpectedly such destruction in the name of progress can take place and sees the irony in the finality of such hasty, heedless action. In ‘Uniting,’ in contrast to ‘Binges Poplars,’ Wordsmith employs language and techniques to create not only a feeling of intimacy between the boy and his surroundings but also to further develop the virginity of the scene before its untimely destruction. The boy sits “beneath the tree” and plays “with the flowers. ” Flowers symbolize beauty and vibrancy, life and love.
The verb “playa” sounds harmless, innocent, youthful – at this point the boy is imply interacting with the scene. However, critic Adam L. Forsyth has suggested that the flowers symbolize virginity and that the boy “play[ins]” with them, in the active voice is forewarning of the figurative rape of the scene which follows. Also, the boy feels “blessed/With sudden happiness beyond all hope. ” The adjective “blessed” and the noun “happiness” presented in the hyperbole are indicative of a complete state of blissful contentment. The narrative then moves into fantasy as the boy imagines “fairy water-breaks” which “murmur on/For ever. This move into the mystical, which s supported by the soft onomatopoeic “murmur” and the tranquil hyperbole “For ever,” makes it seem like the scene is some sort of mythical utopia. The boy feels like he sees “the sparkling foam,” with the adjective “sparkling” creating a magical and glittering twinkle which gives the scene a sense of brilliance. He places his cheek on green stone “fleeced with moss,” beneath the shady trees that “L[ii] round [him] scattered like a flock of sheep. ” At this point the boy seems at one with the scene as his cheek lies on a “green” stone, which reflects his apparent closeness with nature.
The metaphor “fleeced with moss” makes the stone seem soft, peaceful, comforting. Furthermore the simile, which compares the trees to a flock of sheep is effective in that this is a pastoral image which has connotations of peace and calm. The boy hears “the murmur and the murmuring sounds,” and this repetition creates a sort o lulling, lullaby effect which creates an effective contrast with the imminence of the boys sudden compulsion to destroy. Wordsmith’s use of this plethora of technique is effective in terms of Juxtaposing the boys deep appreciation of the scene with his seduction of it, which shocks the reader in its intense violence.