Full Summary and Analysis of G. M. Hopkins’ “Binsey Poplars”

This a good full summary and analysis of G. M. Hopkins’ “Binsey Poplars.” You would understand and know this poem perfectly with the summary and analysis we have done here. It will guide you on the examination you’re preparing for or for you to enjoy the poem better.

Biography of the Poet. Who is G. M. Hopkins? 

Gerald Manley Hopkins was an English poet, who most of his poems revolve around nature and the love of nature. Like other Victorian Literature poets, his works deal with nature and propose for the sanctity and preservation of nature. He converted to Catholicism and this caused issues with his family. On converting to Catholicism, he became a Jesuit priests and burned most of his poetry. He died in 1889. His poem sparked his popularity even after his death.

Background of the Poem (Romanticism)

“Binsey Poplars” was written in a time considered as Victorian period in English Literature. It is called Victorian period because Queen Victoria was the queen of Britain at that time. Romantic Movement (Romanticism) was the most popular literary movement at this period. It is the movement that praised nature and proposed the preservation of nature. There were many popular poets of this movement like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.

These romantic poets active at a time Europe witness industrialization and industrial expansion. Thus, they had to write with their poems and themes opposing the destruction of nature caused by the industrialization. Romanticism and romantic poets are preoccupied with writing poems exploring and advancing nature.

Full Summary and Analysis of G. M. Hopkins’ “Binsey Poplars”

This beautiful rhythmic poem of G. M. Hopkins is somewhat narrative in nature as the persona in the poem narrates the cutting of the tree, “Binsey Poplars,” where he used to relax. The rhythmic poem exposes the effects of deforestation and the direct effect it has on the persona. Throughout the poem through a steady rhythm and onomatopoeia, the persona highlights the action of the cutting of the tree and its effects.

The first stanza is kind of narrative telling the story of the cutting of the tree and how the harsh sun bites after the tree is cut. The gravity of the cutting of the tree is expressed as such that no tree is spared. This cutting of tree affects the country as most trees are cut and the country loses its greenness.

Then in the third stanza where the persona brings up the ironical actions of humans that in an attempt to make the earth, they mar it by cutting trees in the name of development. Thus, what is left for the people in the future is a world where they wouldn’t know of how beautifully green the world was. The rural scene is lost greatly, and in its place are large lands of houses and industries with no green beauty.

The poem has four stanza and twenty-four lines.

Themes in the Full Summary and Analysis of G. M. Hopkins’ “Binsey Poplars”

  • Love of Nature: The persona’s love for nature is exposed in the poem with his narration of the cutting of the tree and advocating for the preservation of nature as against industrialization. To the persona, people shouldn’t destroy the green earth and nature in the name of building a greater and more advanced earth.
  • The Importance of Tree (Binsey Popular): Trees that are cut have important roles they play in human lives and one of them is to provide shade as they do for the persona. On cutting the tree, the sun affects the persona so much.
  • Human Life in the Midst of Nature: Human life is more bearable with nature intact. However, in the absence of nature, the human life is brutish.

Poetic Devices/Figures of Speech or Sound in the Poem

  • Personification: This is used to lay emphasis on the issue of nature by personifying nature elements. Instances of these in the poem include “ .. the leaping sun” – (line 3); “… to mend her we end her” – (line 17) and “ … my aspens dear” – (line 1)
  • Alliteration: “felled, felled … felled” – (line 3); “… wind-wandering weed-winding” – (line 8) and “… growing green” (line 14)
  • Assonance: “ … mend … end” – (line 17); “ … dandled … sandalled” – (line 6) and “… following … folded” (line 4)
  • Repetition: There are a couple of repeated words in the poem like “sweet,” “rural scene,” “felled,” “rural scene” and others.

Diction/Language Use

The choice of words in the poem is easy and not difficult. The lines flow smoothly and with a steady rhythm.

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