Analysis and Comparison of The Lamb and Pied Beauty

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Analysis and Comparison of "The Lamb" and "Pied Beauty"

God's presence is apparent in the beauty of nature. The world created by God is a perfect home to all living things. God has created an intricate world that is astonishing in its variety. In William Blake's 'The Lamb' and Gerard Manley Hopkins' 'Pied Beauty,' the poets illustrate the theme that the beauty of the earth proves the existence of a benevolent creator.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was born on July 28, 1844. He was the first of nine children. He grew up in a family of writers and artists. At grammar school in High gate, he won the poetry prize for 'The Escorial' and a scholarship to Balliol College in Oxford. While there, he began to struggle with his Protestant faith and in 1866, Hopkins joined the Roman Catholic Church. This distanced him from his parents and even more when he joined the Jesuit order and was ordained a priest. As a young man Hopkins experienced conflict between his desire to write poetry and his religious commitment. When he attempted to publish his first poem it was rejected. Hopkins died at age 44, of typhoid fever. 'His poetry will always be among the greatest poems of faith and doubt in the English language' (Gerard Manley Hopkins: An Overview).

William Blake was born on November 28, 1757 in London. He was the third oldest of five children. Blake went to school long enough to learn how to read and write. He then worked in his father's hosiery shop until the age of fourteen. His father then apprenticed Blake to an engraver when he saw his talent for drawing. William Blake married Catherine Boucher at the age of twenty-five. He taught her to read and write in order to help him in his work. Blake was an artist, a poet, and a visionary. 'His work was so incompatible with the taste of his day that his contemporaries could not appreciate his accomplishment' (British Literature). Some looked at him as being inspired but irrational, while others claimed him to be mad. During his life he witnessed visions of angels sitting in a tree to messages from his dead brother. He thought these to be interactions with God, and this was inspiration for his poetry and art. In 1789, Blake published his first major piece of work, Songs of Innocence and later added a group of contrasting poems titled Songs of Experience. 'Blake died three months before his 70th birthday, confident of the value of his work but still relatively unknown, his stunning originality as a poet and artist not to be recognized until well into the 20th century' (British Literature).

Both William Blake and Gerard Manley Hopkins were influenced by their historical time periods. Blake's life (1757-1827) spanned two time periods and reflects both. He lived at the end of the Enlightenment or eighteenth century and the beginning of the Romantic Period. The historical events that influenced him were the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the Agricultural Revolution. Blake was a pre-romantic poet who 'reacted against the emphasis on reason and the intellect' which was popular in the eighteenth century (Prentice 506). Like other pre-romantic poets, Blake 'disregarded the tastes of the time and reestablished the lyric'(Prentice 506). Blake's poems are closer to romantic poetry because they appeal to both, the reader's emotions and reason, they contain ordinary language, and in them, man and nature are closely related. Hopkins (1844-1889) lived at the end of the Victorian Period. He lived at a time when England was the world's richest and strongest country. He was influenced by the middle-class beliefs in social responsibility and the work ethic. He became a Catholic priest to serve the poor. Like many Victorian writers, Hopkins expressed optimism in his poetry. He paved the way for Modern writers by experimenting with rhyme and rhythm. 'He developed what he called 'sprungrhythm.' This is a system of versification in which accented syllables are grouped in emphatic patterns somewhat like those of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse. The resulting meter is quite different from conventional English meter' (Prentice 852). Both Blake and Hopkins are products of their times, yet both are rebels who developed new techniques and ideas.

Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, 'Pied Beauty' gives praises to God for the natural beauty of the world. Glory is given to God for spotted and splashed things, for skies spotted with a darker color and for fallen chestnuts that are the color of glowing coals. All opposing, original, spare, strange things; whatever is fickle and feckled, he created them all and deserves praise.

The following paragraph is a synopsis of William Blake's, 'The Lamb.' Blake starts off by asking who made the little Lamb? He then asks who gave it life and food, and wooly bright clothing along with a soft voice. The maker of the Lamb is then questioned again. The author then tells the reader who made the little Lamb. He says that the creator has the same name, Lamb, and he is gentle and kind. He was once a little child and people are called by his name. He then blesses God for the little Lamb.

The dominant theme in 'Pied Beauty' by Gerard Manley Hopkins and 'The Lamb,' by William Blake is that the natural beauty of the world created by God deserves praise. In 'Pied Beauty' it talks about how God created things that are multicolored such as skies, cows, trout, roasted chestnuts, wings of birds, landscapes, and tools used by humans. These things are dappled, branded, stippled, strange, and freckled. Hopkins' poem celebrates the wondrous variety that God has created. 'All things counter, original, spare, strange are manifestations of God's greatness' (Hopkins 7). In 'The Lamb' one of God's creations is admired and praised. The Lamb is compared to a person and then to God himself. 'He is called by thy name/ For he calls himself a Lamb/'He became a little child/ I a child and thou a lamb/ We are called by his name' (Blake 13-14, 16-18). The benevolent creator deserves praise.

Both Hopkins and Blake use setting and mood to underline their theme. The poem, 'Pied Beauty' is set in a colorful world where 'dappled things' and 'fickled and freckled' things utterly fit together (Hopkins 1, 8). There are spots of pink on the trout that swim and the falling chestnuts are the color of glowing coal. The cows are branded and the skies coupled. The setting as the author describes the world is one of beatitude. The setting and mood are the foundation of Hopkins' theme that a chivalrous maker lives due to the wondrous beauty of the world. Blake uses setting and mood to support his theme in 'The Lamb.' The Lamb lives in a perfect world with streams and meadows all around. It is a place where 'all the vales rejoice' (Blake 8). The mood is one of happiness. The flawless world of the Lamb and the mood justify the theme that the amazing beauty of the world proves that a greathearted father exists.

Blake and Hopkins to sustain their themes use characterization. In 'Pied Beauty,' the speaker is not named but most likely it is Hopkins himself. He praises and admires the colorful things in nature, as if he were a child. He talks about the 'dappled' and 'branded' things. Hopkins' portrayal of the breath taking beauty of the world maintains his theme that a wondrous creator exists. Characterization maintains the theme in Blake's 'The Lamb.' The speaker remains unnamed. He is addressing the Lamb and is happy. He blesses the Lamb after asking him, 'Dost thou know who made thee' (Blake 2). He tells the Lamb that he has 'a tender voice' and 'clothing of delight' which suggest that the speaker is in awe. Blake's characterization of the unnamed speaker, who is in awe and the beautiful Lamb, forms the basis of his theme that the raving beauty of the Lamb establishes the existence of a magnanimous creator.

The first person point-of-view is used to communicate the theme in 'Pied Beauty' and in 'The Lamb.' In Hopkins' poem, a first-person narrator speaks to the reader and gives a first-hand account. In the first stanza, the speaker is in amazement. He talks about the variations in color of the animals and things of the world. In the last stanza he mentions the 'fickle' and 'freckled' things and their creator. 'He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change/ Praise him' (Hopkins 10-11). Hopkins uses the first-person point of view because it is subjective and touching. Hopkins' use of a first-person narrator is the foundation of his theme that the world was created by an almighty maker. Blake uses the first person point-of-view to relate his theme. He speaks to the reader in the first-hand account. In the first stanza, the narrator is talking to the Lamb and questioning it. 'Dost thou know who made thee' (Blake 2). The use of the first person point-of-view is emotional and intensifies the amazement the speaker sees in the Lamb's beauty. He then draws a comparison between the Lamb, himself and the creator. 'I a child & thou a lamb/ We are called by his name' (Blake 17-18). The first person point-of-view helps Blake further the theme that in order for such beauty to lay in a Lamb, an all-powerful molder must exist.

Imagery and figurative language erects the theme in Hopkins' 'Pied Beauty,' and William Blake's, 'The Lamb.' 'Pied Beauty' contains images of the various color schemes portrayed in things in the world. The skies are couped, and cows are branded. Praise is given to God, showing that a God is in existence. These images and figures of speech carry the theme that the world is a beautiful place because a wonderful creator made it that way. Imagery and figurative language enhance Blake's theme. In the first stanza, the poet creates a beautiful image of the Lamb. In the second stanza, Blake uses a simile to compare the Lamb to him. He uses an apostrophe when he talks to the Lamb and the Lamb can not answer back. 'Dost thou know who made thee' (Blake 2). The images and figure of speech in 'The Lamb' erects the theme that through the beauty of nature it is made clear that God is in existence.

Both Gerard Manley Hopkins and William Blake use symbolism to construct their theme. In 'Pied Beauty,' he branded cow and couple color skies symbolize the variety of the worlds and how everything fits together. God symbolizes what is constant and unchangeable. Unlike the things he creates, God never varies. Hopkins' symbols confirm his theme that a wondrous father exist because the worlds if full of beautiful things living in harmony. Blake's symbolism helps manufacture his theme in 'The Lamb.' The Lamb represents purity, perfection and beauty. The Lamb is a traditional symbol of peace, gentleness and innocence, one that Blake inherited from the Bible. The symbol of the Lamb fabricated the theme that due to the existence of God, the beautiful world is a result.

Hopkins and Blake use style to promote their theme. 'Pied Beauty' is a short and complex poem, which shows that man, can not comprehend God's creations. Hopkins uses free verse showing that the world varies and is changeable. The rhythm reinforces the beautiful world created by God. Also in Hopkins' work, the use of sprung rhythm is quite common. The stylistic devices advance the theme that the world's beautiful variety indicates the existence of an amazing Father. The elements of style in 'The Lamb' bring out the thematic message. The poem contains sentences with an irregular rhyme and length that reinforces the idea hat the world is full of variety. Blake uses a casual, clear and simple style of writing, which shows that God is unchangeable and understanding. Blake is symbolic in the fact that he uses the Lamb to represent God's perfect and pureness. Blake uses repetition when he continuously questions the Lamb as to who made it. He does this to communicate the amazement that is seen towards God's creations. The style reinforces the idea that without God, this beautiful world would not exist.

Blake and Hopkins use tone to build their theme. In Hopkins' 'Pied Beauty,' he describes the amazing variety of nature, from the speckled to the dappled things. Hopkins also describes how things come in many shapes. The author's tone seems to be one of a child because he seems amazed at the smallest thing. Hopkins' awe filled tone proves the theme that God is the creator of all that is beautiful. Blake's approving tone expresses his awe, and wonder for God in his poem 'The Lamb.' Blake uses the speaker to represent human beings that are childish. People are amazed that God can create something so b beautiful as the Lamb. Because God's identity can be perceived in what he creates, the Lamb reflects God's character. Like the Lamb, God is perfect and beautiful beyond man's understanding. The poem reveals the childish nature and human beings that can not comprehend God's reasoning and motives. Blake's awe filled tone reinforces the theme that God is the creator of all that is beautiful.

Both Hopkins and Blake express the theme that in a world full of such variety and beauty, one can only believe that God is the creator. God's world is the ideal home to all things that breathe life in our world. The world is intricate and full of amazing variety and beauty beyond man's understanding. Gerard Manley Hopkins and William Blake, both prove this in their poems, 'Pied Beauty' and 'The Lamb.'

Work Cited

Blake, William. 'The Lamb.' Language of Literature: British Literature. Eds.

Applebee, et al. Evanston, Illinois: Mc Dougal Littell, 2000. 709-710.

British Writers Volume III. Ed. Ian Scott-Kilvert, et al. New York: Scribner's, 1980.

'Gerard Manley Hopkins: An Overview.' April 6, 2001. Internet.

Hopkins, Gerard Manley. 'Pied Beauty.' Language of Literature: British Literature. Eds.

Arthur Applebee, et al. Evanston, Illinois: Mc Dougal Littell, 2000. 947-948.

Prentice Hall Literature: The English Tradition. Eds. Roger Babusci, et al. Englewood Cliffs,
New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1989.

'William Blake.' April 6, 2001. Internet.

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