A Comparison of Two Poems

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Compare the two poets' representations of and attitudes to nature in 'The Way Through the Woods' and 'Binsey Poplars'. -----------------------------------------------------------

These two poems, by Gerald Manley Hopkins and Rudyard Kipling respectively, are both concerned with how humans and how their presence among nature can have a negative effect. Both of these poems seem to agree that humans do have an influence on the natural evolution of nature; mainly due to the way humans interfere with nature. However, both of these poems illustrate different ways in the outcome of this interference.

Binsey Poplars, focuses on the destruction of nature; specifically the felling trees. In this poem the author (Gerald Manley Hopkins) displays many themes, directly relating to the humans devastation of the trees in Binsey.

But the most prominent theme exhibited throughout this poem is mankind's destructive attitude towards nature. Hopkins portrays mankind's destruction of nature as savage, senseless, and inhuman. He shows humans with disregard towards nature, and its possible that Hopkins believes that the felling of the aspens is unnecessary, even a breach of the trees rights. This atmosphere is built up mostly in the second stanza, using phonological effects. The use of 'Hack' and 'rack', as assonance in line 11, induces a severe, enraged mood. The harsh sounds help build up this tone. These examples are also forms of internal rhyme. Which again emphasises the destruction. It could be argued that these words are indeed onomatopoeic, representing the sound of the actual trees being hewed to the ground, with an axe. Another instance of this destructive attitude is shown again, later in the second stanza: 'When we hew or delve'. Here again we can clearly see Hopkins view on the mindless way humans destroy nature; 'hew' shows the fierce destruction of the trees. Also, structural affects are used to further illustrate this point, specifically repetition of key lines or phrases. The line 'When we hew or delve' is used twice, although it is slightly rearranged, to emphasise his point.

Hopkins is enraged with the unnecessary felling of the passive trees. He is mournful of the trees' termination. Repetition is used to show his anger at the humans' actions. 'All felled, felled, all felled,' is repeated to re-emphasise his disgust, and his irate outlook. Hopkins also shows a certain amount of disbelief regarding mankind's negligent, disrespectful attitude towards nature. The use of repetition in line five illustrates this. Hopkins cannot believe the event, and so repeats it, to reassure himself that it has actually happened, and convince himself and the reader that this is a real situation. He openly and persistently denounces the destruction of nature; showing his appreciation and respect for nature.

Hopkins displays an appreciative attitude to nature. The author treasures the trees as if they were his own property, carrying sentimental value. He describes them using 'Since country is so tender' and 'the beauty been'. This clearly shows how grateful he is and how much he values the trees, and nature. The repetition in the last three lines of the poem

'The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene'

The example above illustrates this exactly. The phrase 'sweet especial' shows the individuality Hopkins grants the trees. Seeing them as living, breathing creatures to be appreciated. The sibilance in this quote also creates a soothing reminder of the trees lost beauty.

Also, Hopkins acts in a very possessive way of the trees. The way he uses personal pronouns, like 'I', the trees may even be described as his own possessions. He uses 'my', indicating that he regards the trees as his.

The fact that Hopkins appreciates nature and is possessive of his aspens, explains why...
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