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Doubt and Religious Vision

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The nature of Divinity is the leitmotif of many poems. It is a common feature of poets, especially the Romantics, like Dickinson, Wordsworth, and Hopkins, to see Divinity in Nature. To these poets, Nature is only a physical manifestation of the Divine and is worthy of worship. Dickinson’s poem, “Some Keep the Sabbath in Church” clearly shows that she sees God in Nature. With the use of metaphors, she asserts that songbird is the choir, an orchard is a church and God is the preacher. She completely identifies Divinity with Nature and keeps her Sabbath “With a Bobolink for a Chorister –/And an Orchard, for a Dome” (Dickinson, 3-4). Dickinson communes with God through Nature. It is Nature which is her lasting Paradise. Similarly, Hopkins’ “God’s Grandeur” features the manifestation of God in Nature. Man’s obsession with labor and the material things color his life, so that “ all is seared with trade” (Hopkins, 9). This leads to man’s alienation from Nature. Hopkins conveys this alienation symbolically through the image of clad feet which are cut off from contact with the bare earth: “nor can foot feel, being shod” (Hopkins, 8). With his powerful image of God as the protective mother hen who “ broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings,” (Hopkins, 14), the poet conveys that the renewing power of God’s natural creation constantly nurtures and protects man. In the same vein, Wordsworth, in “The World Is Too Much With Us,” laments that man is out of step with Nature: “we are out of tune./ It moves us not (Wordsworth, 8-9). Wordsworth’s anguish over man’s materialism and alienation from Nature is so strong, that he is willing to sacrifice his Christian faith and become a pagan who can see and worship the ancient Gods in the actions of Nature. God, for Wordsworth, is Nature. In contrast to Wordsworth’s willingness to reject his traditional faith, Mathew Arnold, in his hauntingly beautiful description of “Dover Beach,” laments the loss of “The Sea of Faith”.