The ugliness of modern life

This theme is linked to that of the Conservation and renewal of nature. The three poems which focus specifically on it each give slightly different insights into it.

God's Grandeur

God's Grandeur sees the spiritual implications of the ugliness caused by industrialisation. Workers no longer ‘feel' Nature directly, and so lose touch with its God-filled presence. This means their own natural spirituality dries up and they ‘no longer reck his rod'.

The Sea and the Skylark

In The Sea and the Skylark, Hopkins also contrasts the way Nature should be with what man has created. Both the sea and the skylark represent freedom and beauty. Man can only create trivial townscapes, where the inscape of Nature is lost. Far from progressing in an evolutionary sense to something higher, humanity seems to be moving back to the primal, undifferentiated slime. Again, Hopkins stresses the spiritual dimension of the theme.

Duns Scotus' Oxford

In Duns Scotus' Oxford, the idea of borders and tradition is emphasised. In the past, townscapes have been organically formed and thus have formed part of the inscape of Nature. One of the features of this is the defined border between town and country. Modern life has broken this down with faceless suburbs. Suburbs featured for the first time in the Victorian era, as rapid urbanisation led to unchecked and unregulated building outside town limits. This growth is ‘graceless', where the term ‘grace' means not only natural grace, but divine grace as well, Hopkins believes that this is not God's order.

Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.