Gerard Manley Hopkins

(1844-1889)

 

Hopkins died unpublished at the age of 45.  29 years after his death he was published.  Hopkins came from a well off family and he attended Oxford.  He became a convert to Roman Catholicism, which alienated his family.  He then became a Jesuit priest and served as a parish priest.  The following is one of his poems.

 

 

God's Grandeur

 

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

   It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;      (shook foil = gold leaf reflecting

   It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil                                       the light)

Crushed.  Why do men then now not reck his rod?     (oil crushed = olive oil)

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;                   (reck = to have care for)

   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.

 

 

(Hopkins is lamenting how humans have taken the wondrous natural resources that God has given to us and treated them poorly.  But Hopkins ends his poem with hope because God has not given up on us.  Although Hopkins is talking about nature and how we should not take it for granted, he is also talking about a greater gift, the gift of God's love, that we also take for granted.   Hopkins chose to not take God for granted.  He gave up the comforts of his family and money, he gave his all to God with no expectations for any return on his investment in this life.  His poetry was an important part of his life; however, he did not seek to have it published because his writings were a dialog between himself and God, he needed no other participants.  Although his eyes were focused on Heaven and God, although his rewards were future oriented, the fascinating result, how your bio-psycho-social-spiritual body works, is that you find great joy when you live a life that is deeply spiritual. )