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Compare Hopkins and Hardy’s’ descriptions of waterfalls in ‘Inversnaid’ and ‘Under the waterfall’. How do they make these vivid to the reader, and what significance does the waterfall have to each poet? The poem Inversnaid, written by Gerard Manley Hopkins is about a Scottish waterfall, which expresses nature in its natural form. Hopkins’ wrote it to send people a message, he is saying that we should leave nature as it is and not interfere; he is saying that nature should be left alone to grow. He is promoting ‘green’ conservation.
Hopkins believes that nature is gods gift and that the waterfall at Inversnaid is a natural presence and should not be disturbed by man. He praises any form of natural beauty and thinks it should remain untouched. This message is clearly shown in the last four lines of the poem. Hopkins is very enthusiastic about the idea of conservation and he is very far ahead of his time, in arguing that nature should be left alone. This of course, is an important issue in our modern world. Hopkins describes the river as being ‘darksome burn’ and ‘horseback brown’.
This creates the image of a rather muddy, unclean river. The first two lines are saying that the waterfall is angry and raging. The lines ‘roll rock highroad roaring down’ are suggesting the river is angry and is crashing down on the rocks. This is also personification as it is personifying the waterfall. Also, ‘his roll rock highroad’ is portrayed as masculine and shows strength, superiority and force. Additionally, the alliteration of the ‘r’ sound in this sentence may be relating to the rolling movement of the water over the rocks or how the speed of the river is changing.
The words ‘in coop and comb, the fleece of his foam, Flutes and low to the lakes fall home’. These words may be trying to create sounds like the movement of the water by the use of the word ‘flutes’. The words ‘low to the lakes fall home’ are referring to the river returning to its natural place, the lake. The way in which Hopkins portrays beauty and nature is different as he uses very unique ways of doing so. Hopkins is very imaginative and uses the word ‘twindles’ to describe the way the water moves along the river.
This is a word that Hopkins has made up and it is perhaps a combination of the words twist and dwindles. Although we do not know what the word ‘twindles’ actually means, it is still effective as it puts an image in the mind of the reader, who can almost imagine the way the water is cascading down the rockface. We, as readers can almost see the image of the water ‘twindling’ over the rocks in a rhythmic sense. Then in the next few lines it says ‘of a pool so pitch black, fell-frowning’. This suggests the river is evil and that the rocks are quite literally frowning upon the dark, murky pool.
Our second poem, ‘Under the Waterfall’ is about two people that are discussing the woman’s nostalgic feelings when the woman dips her hand into a bowl of water and recalls happy memories from the past. The water evokes and fetches back memories from their ‘thickening shrouds of gray’ (sic). The use of the word shroud implies ideas of a killing, suggesting the memories have been killed of and had to return to the past, however, by plunging her hand into water she in effect, ‘saves’ these memories from being lost.
She remembers things that once happened with delight but at the same time she is sad as it was all in the past and she cannot relive it. Hardy suggests that the woman previous experiences in love have not been ones of a happy kind, and that she has had little luck with romance in the past. The bad relationships she has had in the past have left her afraid and cautious for the future. The woman in the poem speaks about a secret, which only her and her lover know about. We can tell that it is a secret from the line ‘Though precisely where no-one ever has known’.
This suggests it is hidden and protected. Only the lovers are able to bond over this covert object. The woman is speaking about a drinking glass she once dropped into the waterfall. It has since been ‘opalised’ by the water and has become a translucent object. This may relate to her feelings, as it may be linking to her excitement, which has dwindled over the years. The poem is set in a very romantic and idyllic scene and this reflects the intense and very strong emotions that are shared between the lovers. They are in love with each other and the environment surrounding them mirrors them perfectly.
Also, the motion of the waterfall continuously cascading down and never stopping may reflect the lover’s relationship too. Their love is going to live on forever and the movement of the waterfall provides a suitable background and symbolizes eternity. Hardy uses many different words in ‘Under The Waterfall’ to aid us in imagining or conjuring up the image of the waterfall in out minds. The use of phrases such as ‘in the burn of August’. This makes the readers imagine the rustic colours and the warmth of the atmosphere surrounding the lovers.
They almost radiate a warm energy, like a glowing flame. The surroundings are very natural with ‘hanging plants’ and ‘the leafy pattern of chinaware’ helping us imagine the peaceful and tranquil setting. Both poems are written about waterfalls and there are plenty of similarities between the two poems. The main similarity between the two poems is of course the simple fact that they are both about a waterfall. However, if we look deeper into the meaning of the poems we will see that in both poems, the waterfall has a more significant purpose to the writer.
In Hopkins’ ‘Inversnaid’ the waterfall is his way of portraying nature and his way of releasing his frustration at the modern world for polluting the environment. He expresses his anger through the waterfall itself when he says ‘roll rock highroad roaring down’ as he is angered at the way the modern civilization treats nature. In Hardy’s’ ‘Under the Waterfall’ the waterfall also has a deep meaning. Hardy uses the waterfall as a memory; it helps him remember his love and passion he shared with his lover. The waterfall to him is a symbol of devotion.
Another similarity is the fact that both poems are set in rural backgrounds, and both admire the sheer beauty of the waterfall. ‘Inversnaid’ admires the fearsome side of nature, portraying the waterfall as angry and strong. Inversnaid makes nature seem superior to all other beings as it shows it as powerful and undefeatable. Whereas, ‘Under the waterfall’ examines the more calm and serene side of nature. Hardy suggests the waterfall is unchangeable and will live forever undisturbed. At the same time however, there are many differences between ‘Inversnaid’ and ‘Under the Waterfall’.
‘Inversnaid’ shows the waterfall as being a powerful, raging form of nature, almost as if it is out to destroy nature. It is represented as a higher being, and Hopkins shows the waterfall as being angry at the world for killing nature, when it should be preserved. This is in huge contrast to in ‘Under the Waterfall’ where Hardy shows the waterfall as being at one with the world and helping nature and being a gentle thing. The waterfall in Hardy’s’ poem is much more ‘good’ as it is kind to the lovers and provides a symbol of love for them.