An analysis of Gerard Manley Hopkins ‘and William Butler Yeats’ treatment of a higher power in their poetry.
This paper examines how the new age of scientific certainty in the nineteenth and twentieth century generated feelings of doubt against Christianity and its validity. In particular, it looks at how, amid the industrialization and the progressive transformation of the world, modernist writers such as Gerard Manley Hopkins and William Butler Yeats explored their beliefs and faith in a higher power. It analyzes how Hopkins’ poem “God’s Grandeur” celebrates the greatness of God and Christianity while Yeats “The Second Coming” depicts the chaos of his time and questions the role of Christianity and the Christian values of the twentieth century. It shows how both Hopkins and Yeats poems acknowledges the presence of a higher power through religious allusions, imagery and the context in which the poems were written.
From the Paper:
“Understanding the meaning behind Yeats “Second Coming” entails knowledge of the context, which illuminates the speakers’ quest for a higher power. The poem is dated 1919, a year after the end of WW1, the war that came to be known as “The Great War” (Longman, 925), and characterized by its chaos, atrocities and complete destruction. The speakers’ says, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold” (3), referring not only to the global conflicts of his time, but also to the advance in technology that mechanized warfare and led to a frightening number of deaths (Longman, 926). In addition, advance in science not only contradicted the traditional understanding of the universe, but also contradicted religious beliefs, hence the feeling of things falling apart, a sense of loss of control and the imagery of the spiral of the center unable to hold.”