'Binsey Poplars' by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being só slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc únselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Binsey Poplars: A Beautiful Elegy by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Gerard Manley Hopkins' Binsey Poplars is a beautiful poem that captures the beauty and wonder of nature. Written in 1879, the poem is a reflection on the poet's experience of seeing the poplar trees at Binsey, near Oxford, being felled. The poem is an elegy, a lament for the loss of the trees, but it is also a celebration of the beauty of nature and the joy it can bring to our lives. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes of the poem, the use of language and imagery, and the impact of Hopkins' unique style on the reader.
Themes of the Poem
The central theme of Binsey Poplars is the beauty of nature and the importance of preserving it. Hopkins is deeply saddened by the loss of the trees, which he describes as "lovely companions". He mourns their loss and wonders how the landscape will look without them. The poem is an elegy, but it is also a celebration of the beauty of nature. Hopkins' love of nature is evident throughout the poem, and his use of language and imagery reflects this.
Another important theme of the poem is the idea of transformation. The trees are being felled to make way for a railway, and Hopkins is struck by the suddenness of their disappearance. He wonders how such beautiful trees can be destroyed so easily. However, he also recognizes that destruction is a part of the natural cycle of life. The trees will be transformed into something new, and the landscape will be forever changed. This idea of transformation is reflected in the imagery of the poem, particularly in the use of the word "ghosts" to describe the trees after they have been felled.
Use of Language and Imagery
Hopkins' use of language and imagery is one of the most striking features of Binsey Poplars. He uses a range of poetic techniques to create a vivid picture of the trees and the landscape. The poem is full of sensory details, such as the "shining levels" of the river and the "wind-wrinkled [water]" of the pond. These details bring the landscape to life, and the reader can almost feel the breeze on their face and hear the rustling of the leaves.
The use of imagery is particularly effective in conveying the beauty of the trees. Hopkins describes them as "fine apparition" and "golden-crowned". These phrases create a sense of awe and wonder, and the reader can imagine the trees shimmering in the sunlight. The use of the word "crowned" is also significant, as it suggests that the trees are majestic and important. The imagery of the trees being "strewn" and "heaped" after they have been felled is also powerful, as it creates a sense of chaos and destruction.
Hopkins' use of language is also notable for its musicality. The poem is full of alliteration and internal rhyme, which create a sense of rhythm and flow. For example, the phrase "All felled, felled, are all felled" has a hypnotic quality, and the repetition of the word "felled" emphasizes the suddenness of the trees' disappearance.
Hopkins' Unique Style
Hopkins' unique style is evident throughout Binsey Poplars. He was known for his use of "sprung rhythm", a complex metrical system that uses stress rather than syllables to determine the rhythm of a poem. This creates a sense of unpredictability and energy in the poem, as the stress falls on unexpected syllables. The effect is particularly noticeable in the opening lines of the poem, which have a disjointed, staccato quality:
"Felled 1879, in my [fir]st [term] at [Ox]ford, I [wu]tched them [fall],
Up [ended] roo[ted]â€¦."
This use of sprung rhythm reflects the shock and surprise Hopkins felt at the sudden loss of the trees.
Hopkins' use of language is also notable for its inventiveness. He often created new words and used unusual spellings to create a sense of freshness and vitality. For example, he spells "wrought" as "wrohte" and "disturbed" as "disturbÃ¨d". This gives the poem a unique voice and emphasizes the poet's individuality.
In conclusion, Binsey Poplars is a beautiful elegy that celebrates the beauty of nature and mourns its loss. Hopkins' use of language and imagery is striking, and his unique style creates a sense of energy and vitality in the poem. The themes of the poem are timeless, and the message is still relevant today. We must cherish and preserve the natural world, as its beauty and wonder enriches our lives. Hopkins' poem is a reminder of this, and a tribute to the power of nature.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Binsey Poplars: A Poem of Nature and Loss
Gerard Manley Hopkins was a poet who had a deep connection with nature. His poems often reflect his love for the natural world and his concern for its preservation. One of his most famous poems, Binsey Poplars, is a beautiful and poignant reflection on the loss of nature and the impact of human activity on the environment.
The poem was written in 1879, when Hopkins was studying theology at Oxford University. It was inspired by a grove of poplar trees that he had seen on the banks of the River Thames near the village of Binsey. The trees had been cut down to make way for a railway line, and Hopkins was deeply affected by the loss of this natural beauty.
The poem is structured in two parts, with the first part describing the beauty of the poplar trees and the second part lamenting their loss. The first part of the poem is full of vivid imagery and sensory details that bring the poplar trees to life. Hopkins describes the trees as "lovely" and "graceful", and he marvels at their "dapple-dawn-drawn falcon" leaves that shimmer in the sunlight.
Hopkins also uses a variety of poetic techniques to convey the beauty of the poplar trees. He employs alliteration, assonance, and rhyme to create a musical and rhythmic effect. For example, he writes:
"Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced - fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim."
The repetition of the "f" and "p" sounds in these lines creates a sense of movement and energy, as if the poplar trees are alive and vibrant.
In the second part of the poem, Hopkins laments the loss of the poplar trees and the impact of human activity on the environment. He writes:
"All felled, felled, are all felled; Of a fresh and following folded rank Not spared, not one That dandled a sandalled Shadow that swam or sank On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank."
The repetition of the word "felled" in these lines creates a sense of finality and loss. Hopkins is mourning not just the loss of the poplar trees, but also the loss of the natural beauty and diversity that they represented.
Hopkins also uses religious imagery in the second part of the poem to convey the sense of loss and mourning. He compares the poplar trees to "martyrs" who have been sacrificed for the sake of human progress. He writes:
"O if we but knew what we do When we delve or hew - Hack and rack the growing green! Since country is so tender To touch, her being sÃ³ slender, That, like this sleek and seeing ball But a prick will make no eye at all, Where we, even where we mean To mend her we end her, When we hew or delve: After-comers cannot guess the beauty been."
The use of the word "martyrs" and the reference to the fragility of the natural world create a sense of tragedy and loss. Hopkins is warning us that our actions have consequences, and that we must be mindful of the impact that we have on the environment.
In conclusion, Binsey Poplars is a beautiful and poignant poem that reflects Hopkins' love for nature and his concern for its preservation. The poem is a reminder that our actions have consequences, and that we must be mindful of the impact that we have on the environment. Hopkins' use of vivid imagery, poetic techniques, and religious imagery create a sense of beauty and loss that is both powerful and moving. This poem is a testament to the power of poetry to inspire us to appreciate the natural world and to work towards its preservation.
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