God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins

About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

14 responses to “God’s Grandeur

  • stephencwinter

    Hopkins was a prophet in his own time & in ours. There is only one modification that I would make to his argument (never to his poetry!) and that is that I believe there is trade that is respectful, an exchange between equals where both parties honour the labour of each other and the quality of what they bring to the table; and there is toil that leads to the creation of something that is beautiful, useful or both. Thomas Merton recalled the early Fathers of the Church who coined the word, parrhesia, the face to face conversation between God and Humankind in the Garden where Adam was not ashamed of his work. I think that what Hopkins speaks of is trade in which the powerful oppress the weak for the sake of the best price possible, where toil is something that the powerful impose on the weak.

    • jubilare

      I agree with you. Toil and labor and trade are not, of themselves, bad things. It is when they are taken to extremes, when they become wasteful and oppressive, that Hopkin’s words hit home.
      But what always grabs me about this poem, deep in the silent places of my soul, is the beauty of his imagery and how he expresses, in such a powerful form, my own feelings about a Creation that crackles and hums with the power, beauty, majesty and love of its creator.

      Merry Christmas! And thanks for dropping by to comment!

    • jubilare

      It’s a beautiful one. It’s such a good poem that even being assigned to dissect it line-by-line in high school wasn’t enough to kill it for me. :)

      • Deborah Makarios

        Same here, except I got it at uni. A rare bloom among the apparent wastelands of twentieth-century verse.

        • jubilare

          I believe it’s 19th C., though the latter half.
          I think there is some excellent 20th Century poetry, though there is a lot that I don’t care for, as well. I love Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Seamus Heaney, my mother… ;)

          • Deborah Makarios

            Good point! Obviously his work is so good that the lecturer just had to sneak it in anyway :-)
            And yes, there is some wonderful 20th century poetry, but (alas!) that was not what the course focussed on, as it was entitled “Twentieth Century Wastelands”.
            But then, there can be beautiful wastelands: the war poetry of Wilfrid Owen and Edith Sitwell, for example. We also looked at Thomas Hardy’s poetry – SO much better than his prose, in my opinion. Definitely less depressing.

          • jubilare

            Sneaky lecturer! But I can understand the temptation. That’s a pretty grim name for a course.
            I’ve not read Hardy’s poetry. I will have to prod it. Thanks! :)

  • Colleen

    Love this poem. Love you.

  • Bill

    This is one of my favorites. The image of God brooding over the world with warm breast as a hen does over an egg is wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing this. Best wishes for a joy-filled season!

  • bryanajoy

    Ah, one of my favorites. Just recently read through all of Hopkin’s poetry and designed a t-shirt with some lines from this one. I’ve been wearing it at my university and I enjoy the way people turn their heads to read it and then aren’t sure what to say. It’s not very conventional attire :).

    Hope your holidays have been joyous!

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