Mar 3, 2011

Gerard Manley Hopkins' "God's Grandeur" and Kay Ryan's "Blandeur"

Given Kay Ryan's coined word "Blandeur" as a title, I strongly suspect that she has in mind Gerard Manley Hopkins' famous sonnet, "God's Grandeur."

God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

For comparison, here again is Ryan's "Blandeur" from yesterday:

Blandeur by Kay Ryan : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

Ryan seems to say such gifts can be as exhausting as they are stunning, so she playfully asks the deity to tone it down, to inflict upon her a little less drama and splendor in the world. It's too much.

I'm not pushing any religiosity in the two poems, but I have to acknowledge that it's there, albeit in very different ways. Maybe those differences reflect the century of change in sentient witnesses' attitudes upon encountering the divine, or at least the omnipotent. In fact, I wonder if Ryan is speaking somewhat tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at modernism's reluctance or inability to accept such displays as manifestations of the divine, while Hopkins is all too happy to say, Bring it on, Lord, and praise be.

The poems provide an awfully good basis for comparison, yet I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even catch the connection between them until after I'd posted "Blandeur" yesterday.



Brenda's Arizona said...

Grandeur vs. Blandeur - NEAT!
Hopkins' reminds me of taking my Mom to Yellowstone last summer. Watching Old Faithful blow - the grandeur is what she remembers. "Nature is never spent". Mom wanted to shake anyone who wasn't paying attention to the 'blow' - to anyone who was busy talking on his/her cell phone, ignoring the grandeur.

Which begs the question - when Old Faithful blows, and no one is there to see it... is it at lovely? Does God put as much effort into it?

Pasadena Adjacent said...

now that I've read this post I'm ready to take back 3/4's of my comment in the last post (the horse name stands).

Blandeur, it's a perfect description. I hope it doesn't catch on. Like the overly used "shape shifter" Two words I loved hearing together that are now becoming too commonly used.

Banjo52 said...

PA, 1. you BETTER leave that horse name alone! 2. That's the problem with cliche, isn't it--tho' I'm not sure I hear "shape shifter" as cliche just yet.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I went back and re-read. Maybe I'd ax the Camus quote.

"Shape-shifter" I recently discovered it in Mary Karr's middle memoir Cherry. Written in 2000. It got me to thinking and dreading. Something similar happened to me when I took a passed over reference out of a movie that pop culture seemed to have bypassed ten years earlier. Anyhow, I put it into a 20 x 60 ft Billboard that graced Hollywood blvd (and above Fredrick's of Hollywood; I was so honored). Well received, plenty of applause etc etc. Then maybe five years after the fact, the "quote" returned and became part of pop-culture's lexicon, making my work look cliche.

Unless your famous, those tides you ride before trends, can come back to bite you.

Jean Spitzer said...

I'm just about up to reading, but while I haven't been up to much analysis, I have been loving your photos these past weeks. My favorite is the wreath of egrets from a few posts ago.

Banjo52 said...

PA, you were there first!

Jean, thanks. With birds, they don't usually allow planning a pattern, but I did see that circle and jumped on it. Yet I never thought of "wreath," which is perfect.

Hope you're fully back soon.

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, now Blogspot is eating MY comments. The story of your mom and Yellowstone really says some stuff. Although I don't think I'd ever be on my phone beside Old Faithful, I think I now admit to being almost as moved (is that the word?) by pastoral scenes in Ohio, Indiana, and so forth. How about this?--farms and woods in hill country conjure thoughts of man IN nature, while places like the Tetons (just for variety) show man UNDER nature. If someone needs to be told that nature is bigger than he is . . . well, he just might be on his cell phone as an avalanche thunders down, and that just might be a good thing.

I don't mean we have to choose--Rockies VERSUS Paducah, KY, for example. I guess I mean the Rockies and their ilk are so OBVIOUSLY grand that needing that much to see nature's beauty and might suggests a deficiency in the observer. Paducah has its glories too. And I-80 across Pennsylvania.

TMI? Might be a good time for us all to re-read the conclusion of Wallace Stevens' "Nomad Exquisite" (about a month ago here).

Lovers' Lane