Structure and versification in Binsey Poplars

The poem is in an unusual form for Hopkins, the lyric. It is songlike, with sprung rhythm and fairly free verse. Each stanza has eight lines, but line lengths vary from dimeters to hexameters. Some lines are regular, as l.1, which is an iambic pentameter; some are very irregular, as l.8, which tries to recapture the winding motion of the river. It could be scanned as either five or six stresses, depending on whether the compound epithets are given two half-stresses or two full stresses. Generally the metre is rising, but l.2 is more falling or trochaic. There is a scattering of spondees to give extra emphasis, as in l.3.

Investigating Binsey Poplars
  • Study the repetitions in the poem.
    • Why are certain words repeated a number of times?
  • Also look at the internal rhymes and the examples of assonance, which are types of repetition.
    • What effects does Hopkins gain through them?
  • Can you understand the sense of 1.4?
  • Did you know a scene which has been recently destroyed?
    • What were your feelings on seeing the destruction?
    • Do Hopkins' thoughts echo yours at all?
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