The poem “Pied Beauty” was written by Hopkins in 1877 and the “Ode to Autumn” was penned down by Keats in 1820. These poems appreciate all the aspects and diversity of Nature positively leading to the praise of God. In Pied Beauty, this praise of the Creator is vivid and apparent as the poet magnanimously asserts:
“He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
However, in Ode to Autumn the praise is subtly highlighted through the description of exuberant bounties of Autumn.
The overarching theme of “beauty beyond appearance” is witnessed in both the poetic works mentioned above. In “Pied Beauty” this theme encapsulates the idea that perfection of things lies behind their appearance. The poet accentuates the fact that the spirit and energy beyond the appearance is to be appreciated. Thereby, a metaphysical streak echoes throughout, emphasizing the true essence of the word, “beauty”. Similarly, this theme is observed in “Ode to Autumn” connoting that the season Autumn has its own beauty like other seasons. Generally, Autumn is associated with old age or the end of life but Keats has creatively portrayed it as a season of “mellow fruitfulness”, thus, denoting the beauty of Autumn afar from its appearance. He has artistically projected an implied meaning to the poem by illustrating that autumn is the time of life where everything eventually leads to its completion or to have acquired the ultimate motive of life.
The crux of Ode to Autumn is to symbolize the uncertainties of life the Universe is so prone. However, in Pied Beauty, a synonymous thought is presented in the subtle descriptions of Nature that juxtapose the opposites to underline the notion that life is unpredictable , non-static and full of ambiguities. Hopkins asserts:
“And all the trades,their gear &tackle &trim.
Whatever is ficke, freckled,(who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour;adazzle,dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change”
Here, the poet stresses on the diverse nature of the life on Universe that everything is in a flux. The only thing constant is change and therefore, in Ode to Autumn we notice that autumn has arrived and we should appreciate the various shades of Nature it offers because they are momentary. Consequently, the beauty and speciality of everything present should be appreciated. It is because every atom and molecule on earth gifts us with some meaning and purpose in life.
Another eminent theme is of “Nature”. In “Pied Beauty” numerous aspects of Nature are delineated using compound words. Hopkins appreciates that “Glory be to God for dappled things”, “skies of couple-colours” the “rose-moles” on the trout, the “Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings” and also the “Landscape plotted and pieced -fold,fallow &plough”. The poet is praisng God for everything that he has created and also for the sublime energies that Nature encapsulates beyond its physical appearance. Furthermore, this theme of Nature is also evident in “Ode to Autumn”. This ode is pregnant with admiration for different activities that take place in autumn. Keats enumerates that it is a “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”, “load and bless with fruits the vines that round the thatch-eves run”, “fill all fruits with ripeness to the core”, “swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells with sweet kernel”,”barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day”, “lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn” and the “Hedge-cricket sing”. All these descriptions stimulate our senses and lend a beautiful cinematographic element to the poem.
Analogous to Hopkins, Keats also implies the stylistic device of compound words. However, the contrast lies in the fact that Keats uses compound words to make his poetry sensual whereas, Hopkins employs compound words to give different things a set shape and pattern. This is called instress and inscape technique that Hopkins uses. For example, he says “For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow”. Here he is characterizing the sky’s colour and accentuating the inter relation and harmony of Nature. Like the brinded cow the sky is also spotted and patchy as the blue sky and white clouds are “coupled” together. The creative amalgamation of sky with creations on earth reflects the poet’s love of nature to a commendable degree. On the contrary, Keats utilizes compound words to give a corporeal effect. For instance, he calls autum the “bosom-friend of the maturing Sun” and also he asserts “half-reap’d furrow”, “bloom the soft-dying day” and “full-grown lambs”. All these examples stir the senses.
Animal and bird imagery have also been incorporated in these poems. Hopkins uses the image of the “brinded cow” to make the colour and pattern of the sky tangible, and also uses the image of a trout with rose-moles and the finches’ wings to signify the variety and diversity of Nature. Nonetheless, Keats uses the images of the “swallow” singing, “lambs” bleating , “hedge-cricket” singing and the red-breast,”garden-crofet” whistling to indicate that autumn has a life and activity of its own which must be appreciated instead waiting for other seasons to come.
Alliteration in the “Pied Beauty” is used to heighten the auditory effect of the poem. It is said about Hopkins that “his poetry should not be read with eyes but ears” (Bridges). The alliteartion used in the compound word “couple-clouds” empahsizes on making the sky tangible whereas “Fresh-firecoal” denotes a paradox to enhance the colour of the chestnut that is falling off the tree and “fold, fallow” these descriptions of the landscape suggest the multiplicity of lands created by God. On the other hand, in “Ode to Autumn” the alliterations “winnowing wind”, “dying day” and “lambs loud” all of these are stressing upon the activities that take place in autumn. Thus, signifying that autumn is also lively and is not about the end of life rather it announces a new happy beginning that follows.
Nonetheless, apart from a few stylistic contrasts, both poets share a common natural ground of ideas, that is , the love and intense adulation of nature. The imagery that these poets employ is far-fetched and typical of the Romantic school of thought.
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