Compare and Contrast of‘‘Binsey Poplars’’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins and ‘‘The Trees’’ by Philip Larkin
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Choose two of the poems given in the handout . Compare and contrast these two poems (‘‘Binsey Poplars’’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins and ‘‘The Trees’’ by Philip Larkin), paying close attention to their language and form.
In a recent article in The Guardian, Billy Mills writes, ‘Trees have been putting down roots in poetry for centuries’, and indeed there are as many poems about trees as there are species of trees themselves. As someone who grew up surrounded by trees and as a lover of poetry, it was a natural choice for me to use this assignment to explore two poems that are ostensibly about trees; Philip Larkin’s ‘The Trees’ and G.M. Hopkins’ ‘Binsey Poplars’. Of course, to say that the poems are simply about trees is akin to saying that poems are full of words that rhyme. This may be true but it is a description that falls short of the real truth – they are about trees but they are also about life and death, despair and hope.
While Philip Larkin’s ‘The Trees’ seems on first reading a very straightforward Ode to the life cycles of trees all around us, Hopkins’ ‘Binsey Poplars’ is a much more complicated and dense narrative that conveys a message that goes far beyond the loss of his beloved poplars. I will explore the themes presented to us by the poets and the techniques, including language and form, employed by both to convey these to the reader. I will aim to show that both the poems and the techniques made use of are equally powerful in their end result, equally evocative and inspiring and equally vital to the vast root system of ‘tree poetry’ that exists today.
Philip Larkin in ‘The Trees’, is using the poetic form to compare the life cycle of trees to that of the human experience. The entire poem is a metaphor that utilises ...
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...ind of mumbling sorrow where he rotates three adjectives to mourn the loss of his sweet especial rural scene.
Both poems oscillate in tone and pace , from meditative to rage to mournful and regretful. However the techniques used in each piece are both indicative of and unique to their creator. Like trees have similar characteristics but differ greatly in form and And while one may have a favourite tree or a favourite poem it is the specie as a whole that one takes delight in and appreciates how it is the differences that make each individual poem or tree unique and special, and the species as a whole more interesting and varied.
The process of learning to identify trees is a progressive one without end. After a season of studying an indefinable ‘jizz’, an unconscious combining of a number of minor features allows almost infallible identifications.