Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) is one of my favorite poets because of the sheer loveliness of his language, including words he invented. His poems often celebrate the beauty of nature — and they open my eyes to that beauty, even when I do not understand his every word!
Hopkins was an Oxford-educated Jesuit priest, so of course he expresses himself in the language of his tradition. But if you read his whole body of work, it’s clear that his spirituality has a universal reach, rooted in respect for the sacredness life in all its diversity.
At our moment in history, “God’s Grandeur” is an especially poignant poem. The evidence is clear: we have been miserably poor stewards of the gifts of the natural world, possessed as we are by greed and arrogance, untempered by reverence, respect, or even common sense.
by Gerard Manley HopkinsThe 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?
Some poems are best experienced when you read them aloud. Try it with this one, and don’t worry when your tongue “trips” over the words. I tripped and fell while hiking once. While I lay there waiting for my knee to stop throbbing, I realized that I’d been given a chance to take a closer look at the planet I too often take for granted!
Let this poem remind us to cherish nature’s remaining gifts and do what we can to protect them. Even now, “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things”…