Hopkins belonged to Victorian age. He is a poet as well as a priest. He never wrote poems intentionally for publication. It was published by his friend Robert bridges later. The present poem is a sonnet which has been written in Petrarchan style. It has an octet as well as a sestet. The octet is pessimistic in nature which can be understood by going through the lines-
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.”
Through the above lines the poet says that the world is fit for living only because of God. We all including the earth is charged by God. We have energy, happiness, health only because of God but we hardly pay gratitude to him. Our ego compels us to think that we are superior to God and what we have is our own quality and God has nothing to do with our quality and energy. When we think like this then suddenly we are crushed by the almighty. We should never think arrogantly and pay tribute to the almighty. Our ego is like the ooze of oil which is crushed by the almighty. Men never take lesson from our forefathers and as a result generation after generation commits the same mistake and pays the penalty. This penalty comes in form of turbulence caused by the wrath of God. It is the reck of his rod. With activities like trade we exploit nature and leave behind our smell of existence. This ooze of oil is never tolerated by the almighty. The style of writing is epigrammatic. Still we fail to understand the doings of God. The word trod has been repeated thrice which means that generation after generation will never understand the ways of God to men. God is the creator who has created us to live and pay tribute to him. There is a comparison of performance of God and men. The work of God is constructive whereas the work of men is destructive. We keep on harming nature only because of benefits. As a result nature has lost herself and we enjoy living a mechanical life. This kind of life is insensitive and wreathless. For some benefits in trade we continuously exploit nature and thus nature has been smeared and bleared by our activities. Repeating of words like trod shows that the poet has used alliteration to show the seriousness of the subject. With the industrial advancement of men nature has been harmed a lot. Men have become so commercial that they have forgotten that nature is important for their survival. They have become insensitive towards the ecosystem. The poet is not happy in octet and he thinks that men are responsible for worst condition of nature. In the next six lines that is sestet the tone of the poet has been changed. He says that-
“And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”
Through the above mentioned lines poet shows his optimistic views towards nature that no power can destroy nature. The destruction caused by human activities is superficial and inwardly deep down nature is eternally fresh and green. When the west is dark then the east is enlightened with light. When we sleep the Holy Ghost protect us from darkness and negativity because we are also a part of nature. We can feel the warmth of love in our dreams. This is one of the reasons that we sleep with a hope of well being. Morning brings us fresh energy and air because of that Holy Ghost. Morning freshness can never be extinct because it is eternal. The Christian belief of trinity believes in the healing power of the almighty. The Holy Ghost symbolically stands for the creative energy of the cosmos. Holy Ghost helps us to sleep in forgetfulness. Thus in the present poem we can feel the spirit of a typical Petrarchan sonnet where the octet is pessimistic in tone whereas the sestet is optimistic. The rhyme scheme of the poem is abba abba cd cd cd.