God’s Grandeur

March 8, 2007 at 10:57 pm Leave a comment

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Listen (and watch! Stanley Kunitz reads) [1]

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.

Having started off on Hopkins I can’t seem to stop. Here’s another beauty – a poem that does justice to its subject by being every bit as glorious as what it seeks to describe. It is a poem with warm breast and bright wings, an immense and singing poems that thrills the ear as few other poems do.

In his introduction to the poem, Kunitz speaks of the wonder of discovering Hopkins for the first time – it’s an amazement we’ve all shared at one point or the other, but more importantly it’s a sense of awe I come back to every time I re-read Hopkins and am reminded again of just how miraculous a poet he is. Just that single line – “It will flame out, like shining from shook foil” is enough to make me shut my eyes and savour the exquisiteness.

[falstaff]

[1] Video Courtesy the Favorite Poem Project. Warning: Realplayer Required.

Entry filed under: English, Falstaff, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Tags: .

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