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"The Poplar Field" by William Cowper "Binsey Poplars felled 1879" by Gerard Manley Hopkins - Write an essay comparing and contrasting the two poems.

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Introduction

James Lee 11ME 17th September 2004 English Literature Mrs Firth Pre 20th Century Poetry "The Poplar Field" by William Cowper "Binsey Poplars felled 1879" by Gerard Manley Hopkins Write an essay comparing and contrasting the two poems. The first thing that is noticeable is that both the poems are about a group of trees alongside a river. The other general similarity between the poems is that they are then later cut down and so the writers are now deprived of their enjoyment in the "cool colonnade". However there are many differences between the poems. Firstly we notice that Hopkins uses far more complex rhyming schemes to capture the reader. He uses an erratic rhyming scheme and irregular stanzas. The rhyming scheme that Hopkins uses in the first stanza is of a simpler scheme than that of the second stanza. Using letters, I have noted down the rhyming scheme for the first and the second stanza. This is the rhyming scheme for the first stanza: ABABCBDCC. This row of letters represents the rhyming words at the end of each sentence. In the first and the third line, Hopkins uses "quelled" and "felled". ...read more.

Middle

This implies that even though they are cut down they are still useful even though he preferred them as a form of shade. In the third stanza Cowper writes how the death of the poplars have affected the wildlife. He specifically writes about the blackbird having to find refuge in an other habitat. In the fourth stanza Cowper describes that he is getting older and will soon die just like the poplars. This implies that he is more concerned with his life and that he, one day, will have "turf " on is "breast, and a stone at" his head, meaning that he will die soon like the poplar trees. He cleverly uses the trees as a way of thinking about human mortality. In the fifth stanza he continues to reflect about himself approaching death which prompts him to think of the "perishing pleasures of man" and ironically says that man's life is short, his enjoyment of the poplars lasts shorter than he. Over looking Cowpers poem, this all ads up to meditation on human life and how short life is, the fragility of life and the fact that life can end suddenly and unexpectedly. ...read more.

Conclusion

The trees were their friends and they are sad to see them go. They look wistfully back on the trees remembering the positive images of them being with the trees. Cowper in the concluding verse writes that he must move on and just remember the good times he had in the presence of the trees. Hopkins on the other hand has a more negative approach to the cutting down of the trees. He shows that he was very attached to trees and how he wishes that mankind would not be so destructive. I think that in terms of reading, I found that William Cowper's "The Poplar Field" was a lot easier to read and understand. The poem was a lot simpler to understand because there wasn't as much imagery put into the poem that might have mislead the reader. However I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Binsey Poplars" by Gerard Manley Hopkins because of the vast amount of thought provoking ideas that came into the poem. It had a very nice texture to it with all the metaphors and alliteration. The alliteration certainly had a great effect on me in terms of me imagining the scene where the trees grew. Hopkins has showed me how poetry should be written; going over the top to create a picture to help the reader understand what the poet is trying to convey. ...read more.

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