Compare the Ways in Which Hopkins’ ‘God’s Grandeur’ and Wordsworth’s ‘the World Is Too Much with Us’ Use the Sonnet Form to Address Their Contemporary Concerns.

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British poets during the nineteenth century, a period of great social, economic and environmental change, experienced an astounding shift in poetic style, in which many based their work on the ‘beauty’ of their surroundings, and how mankind affected this. Of this period, two of the leading nature poets in British literary history, Gerard Manley Hopkins and William Wordsworth became known, renowned as great figures in British literary history. Both adopted a ‘sacramental’ view of nature, that is they saw beyond the obvious features commonly associated with the natural world such as phenomenal features of the landscape. Writing during the Industrial Revolution, both poets considered the divinity and holiness at a deeper level and found that the world was imbued with spiritual influence. Not only did this event change their perception on a spiritual level, it also affected their general tone and outlook on life, which is evident in the way the poets write. In God’s Grandeur and The World Is Too Much With Us, the Petrachan sonnet form is used, a conventional style which became popular among English poets, in that they felt they could be more expressive using the Italian form, rather than the typical Shakespearean style. In this, they exploit the typical use of an octet or the first eight lines principally develop their argument or concern, while the sestet or the final six lines focus on the proposed solution offered by the poet.

The problems both poems directly address are focussed on the exploitation of nature in pursuit of wealth and material gain; what differentiates the poems is their reliance and response to the natural world, which had been moulded around the needs of mankind in the 1800s. As a result, mankind abused the natural world and preferring to pollute it as a means of gaining wealth. Unsurprisingly, both were greatly influenced by their religious fervour; Wordsworth shows evident sympathy for Pagan mythology, while Hopkins was committed to a...
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