G. M. Hopkins is a unique figure in the history of English poetry. He belongs to the 19th century. He has composed about three hundred poems. He is considered to be an original poet. He made some revolutionary innovations.
Hopkins's poetry reflects his detailed observations of nature and architecture. His writing was exclusively religious. He discarded the romantic style of verse. It was he who changed the current of English poetry. On this basis he is ranked as a modern poet also.
All the poetry of Hopkins has one unifying theme- the glory and greatness of God. The ascetic and aesthetic combine in his themes. His love of God and his dedication to God can be found in his poetry. He was indebted to Donne and other metaphysical poets. He was committed to religion as a Jesuit Priest. This limited his themes to God, Man and Nature. His poems deal with the struggle between self and duty. After Milton, Hopkins is the greatest religious poet of England.
The beauty of nature is a recurrent theme. It is contrasted with the ugliness of man's works. Among the English poets of nature Hopkins enjoys a pride of place. In this context he can be compared with Keats, Whitman, Wordsworth, Frost and Shelley. He was a keen observer of nature. He sees God manifested through all things in nature.
Hopkins is even concerned with human beauty. But he concludes that beauty should be dedicated to God from where it originates. According to him body and spirit are not in conflict with each other. But they are interdependent. The dignity of labour, the innocence of youth, death and change, and suffering and redemption are some other themes. They are associated with the principle theme of glory of God. 'Pied Beauty' reflects this theme most characteristically.
Thus Hopkins is a great poet. He has been a constant source of inspiration to the poets of the 20th century. He developed fresh and individual vocabulary. He formed new compound words. He was also a great metrical innovator. He is very much popular for the complex use of alliteration, assonance and internal rhymes. His use of grammar is unconventional with striking effect. His images served as a symbol of religion.
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