Imagine living in London or New York City during the Industrial Revolution – the cities are overflowing with filthy people, public sanitation is severely lacking, and the air is thick with black smoke and soot. It’s no wonder the Victorians may have felt a spiritual disconnection from Nature. This feeling of separation is expressed beautifully in G. M. Hopkins’s poem, God’s Grandeur. This is one of my favorite poems – the rhythm and imagery are so striking. I love how he expresses that the act of wearing shoes breaks our spiritual connection with the Earth (not that I don’t appreciate the blessing of having shoes to wear!). And throughout it all, the grandeur of the Creator shows through as the sun rises everyday. Whether or not you believe the planet was a gift from our Creator, I think we all agree that it is a gift, and it should be cherished. Happy (Belated) Earth Day!
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.
-G. M. Hopkins, 1877