Thursday, January 22, 2009

ah! bright wings.

God's Grandeur
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

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.

This poem has been haunting me lately. Hopkins is considered a 2nd tier British poet. He's called by some a religious poet, and by some a nature poet. I guess if one needs boxes, those fit. He was born Anglican but converted to Catholicism in college, taking orders as a Jesuit. Whether his sometimes bleak personality was a result of this or led to it is, I guess, a chicken-egg argument. He seemed torn by his sense of duty to his religion which - to him - conflicted with the longing of his soul to see and write beauty. I think this poem captures well the sense that the world is God's gift to us, and we have trashed it . And yet... day dawns, "nature is never spent," the Holy Ghost of God "broods" over the world (as in mother hen, I think, though I'm uncomfortable with the image). There is, behind what can be seen, a greater unseen.

I considered, instead of Baiku, calling my blog "ah! bright wings."

Though he suffered from serious depression, and fatally contracted Typhoid fever at age 45,  Hopkins' dying words were  "I am so happy. So happy."

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