The Victorian period was a time of radical change. Gone were the “Romantic” releases from misery where birds would sing “like a rose embowered” (To a Skylark) and in was the Origin of Species which shook the religious world and huge secular transformations such as the industrial revolution. While some people embraced these discoveries with renewed enthusiasm, others started the path towards existentialism. Consequently, the poems which I will be discussing are Dover Beech by Mathew Arnold and Gods Grandeur by Gerald Manly Hopkins which deals with such issues but results in different conclusions.
In contrast, both poems are fascinating from the opening stanza, Dover beach starts of tranquil as the “grating roar” of the sea ebbs the landscape amongst the “gleams” of moon light. The lexis is relatively simple as Arnold cleverly uses monosyllables along with simple verbs: “… on the French coast the light gleams and is gone” to create a soothing ambience. However, this cadence does not create enlightenment but instead an “eternal note of sadness”!Order now
Conversely, Gods grandeur has a higher opening tempo as Hopkins uses a series of vivid imagery to describe the world. The natural world is “charged” with the vibrancy of electricity and filled with the richness of oozing oil; Hopkins is portraying the world as wondrous place but in the second quatrain he asks us if there is so much ever-present beauty: “Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? ” This sentence bolsters urgency as the question contains several stressed syllables.
Likewise, Hopkins the reputation of “have trod, have trod, have trod” symbolised the progression of time where internal rhyme in line 8: “And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil” symbolises the chaos which the world has now degraded into. From an optimistic world in the opening quatrain, through man’s destruction (primarily the industrial revolution), men has managed alienate himself from nature. As you can see, change has different effects of different people.
In this instance, Hopkins does not share the enthusiasm of the industrial revolution and is instead more concerned with the atheistic quality of the world. In the second stanza of Dover Beach, we find out more about the authors sadness in the “northern sea. ” He reveals that “ebb and flow” of the sea reminds him of human misery just like “Sophocles long ago. ” This pessimistic view on life is the antithesis of such Romantic poems by Keats and is predominately caused by the feeling of desertion and lack of hope.