“God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins (Favorite Poem Project)

“God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins (Favorite Poem Project)


I’m Stanley Kunitz, I live in New York City. I published
my first book of poems some 70 years ago. Back in 1926, I was roaming through
the stacks of the Widener Library at Harvard. While I was walking through the section on English poetry of the 19th century, I
just, at random, lifted my arm and picked a book off the shelf. It was attributed to an author I was
not familiar with, Gerard Manley Hopkins. The page that I turned to and began to read was the
page devoted to a poem called “God’s Grandeur”. I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I opened
this book and started reading that poem, it really shook me, because it was unlike
anything else I had ever read before. When I started reading it, suddenly that
whole book became alive to me. It was filled with such a lyric passion. It was so fierce
and eloquent, wounded and yet radiant, That I knew it was speaking directly to me and giving me a hint
of the kind of poetry that I would be dedicated to for the rest of my life. “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.

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7 Comments

  1. Listening to people reading these poems is one of the most beautiful experiences anyone can have. Thank you, Robert Pinsky.

  2. Wonderful.
    This poem captures so well the mixture of gratitude and grief and then, a return to gratitude and awe. Thank you.

  3. I almost forgot. You were a mentor to Georgia Heard, who I encountered at Teachers College. She inspired me to write poetry, but more important than that: she inspired me to learn poetry and scripture by heart, to perform poetry and scripture. Thank you for your mentorship of her, and know how the chain of sympathy (as Hawthorne calls it) connects one to another.

  4. What a great reading. The music someone else's voice puts to a poem makes all kinds of interesting things that you may have been missing stand out. I also have deeply mystical memories of Widener – the stacks there are a very dramatic environment 🙂

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