Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
According to Hopkins’s theory of inscape, all living things have a constantly shifting design or pattern that gives each object a unique identity. Hopkins frequently uses color to describe these inscapes. “Pied Beauty” praises God for giving every object a distinct visual pattern, from sunlight as multicolored as a cow to the beauty of birds’ wings and freshly plowed fields. Indeed, the word pied means “having splotches of two or more colors.” In “Hurrahing in Harvest,” the speaker describes “azourous hung hills” (
Ecstatic, Transcendent Moments
Many of Hopkins’s poems feature an ecstatic outcry, a moment at which the speaker expresses his transcendence of the real world into the spiritual world. The words ah, o, and oh usually signal the point at which the poem moves from a description of nature’s beauty to an overt expression of religious sentiment. “Binsey Poplars” (
To express inscape and instress, Hopkins experimented with rhythm and sound to create sprung rhythm, a distinct musicality that resembles the patterns of natural speech in English. The flexible meter allowed Hopkins to convey the fast, swooping falcon in “The Windhover” and the slow movement of heavy clouds in “Hurrahing in Harvest.” To indicate how his lines should be read aloud, Hopkins often marked words with acute accents, as in “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” and “Spring and Fall.”