There Is No God, the Wicked Saith

9 September 2016

‘There Is No God, The Wicked Saith’ with ‘There’s probably no God… now stop worrying and enjoy your life. ’ The Victorian era was a period of rapid industrial growth, social unrest and scientific discovery. Victorian poetry was marked by religious doubt, personal despair and general uncertainty about life. ‘There Is No God, the Wicked Saith’ is an example of a poem that deals with religious doubt and it challenges the idea of religion and the existence of God.

Arthur Hugh Clough was influenced by the High Church movement for a time but he eventually rejected it. Later in life he became unwilling to teach the doctrines of the Church Of England as a tutor and resigned himself in Paris. ‘There Is No God’ shows his dismissive attitude towards religion and Clough is very cynical in mocking the Church and its followers. The poem is simplistic with a deep meaning. The article,‘There’s probably no God… now stop worrying and enjoy your life’ is an account of an atheist campaign against negative religious messages.

There Is No God, the Wicked Saith Essay Example

In contrast to Clough’s poem, it encourages people to believe what they want to, instead of being demeaning. The metrical pattern of iambic tetrameter/trimetre is childlike but elegant and is juxtaposed with the grim, cynical message. The ABCB rhyming pattern adds a derisive sing-song quality to the poem, ‘it’s a blessing, for what He might have done with us it’s only better guessing. ’ Clough suggests that if there were a God, people would be punished for the wrong that they do and he presents this evidence in an unattractive gloating manner.

It is in 3rd person, but the speakers are in 1st person. The different voices add texture to the poem and allow Clough to mimic and mock various religious stereotypes. He uses these voices to question whether there is a God and explore people’s beliefs and reasons for being religious. The article is in 3rd person meaning the writer does not express a personal opinion towards the subject matter. This compliments the message that ‘people can believe whatever they want’ as the reader is not swayed towards a biased opinion.

The poem is in a declarative mood and opens with the bold statement, ‘There is no God’. This declarative is repeated to reinforce the message of doubt. It is in present tense, which makes the subject relevant and the message more powerful. The article is also declarative. It is simple and gives a practical account of the atheist campaign. The use of the archaic language, ‘saith’ may be meant in an ironic way by Clough as it has an Old Testament feel to it. It reinforces the idea that Clough is mocking religion and dealing with a difficult issue in a sarcastic manner.

Clough’s sarcastic tone is present throughout, ‘If He should take it ill in me to make a little money. ’ Here the poet questions the Victorian idea of expansion and it may be a comment on capitalism. The vague pronoun, ‘somebody’ that Clough uses in reference to God, depicts him as a vague projection in society. It also emphasises the rich man’s attitude towards God, in that he doesn’t need him because he has everything, so he therefore doesn’t need to have faith in God.

When Clough mentions men ‘in first confusion,’ he may be referring to homosexuality. He uses this as an example of people questioning the ideas of the church and doubting what they have been taught to believe is right. In the opening of the article, the adjective, ‘controversial’ sets the tone for the rest of the text and suggests the campaign has caused disputes. The imperatives in the title itself, ‘now stop worrying and enjoy your life’ seem blunt and harsh until the message behind them is explained.

The article uses facts and figures such as, ‘200 bendy buses in London and 600 others across England, Scotland and Wales,’ to emphasise the scale of the campaign. The sibilance in, ‘shadow of the steeple’ sounds hushed and could symbolise the church silencing those who may choose to question their faith, acknowledging the control that the church has over people. Further sibilance in ‘disease or sorrows strike him’, creates a hissing effect and a negative feel, suggesting that people only turn to God when there is hardship in their lives.

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