<God's Grandeur
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The world is charged with the grandeur of G-d.

    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

    it gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed.  Why do men not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

    And all is seared with trade, bleared, smeared with toil;

    And wear’s 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 thought the last lights off the black West went

    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs -

Because the Holy Spirit over the bent

    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


-Gerard Manley Hopkins




charged: the electrical image is not irrelevant

shook foil: glinting from gold or silver, etc. foil; or from a sword

like the ooze of oil/ Crushed: olive press; or the more cosmic process of the formation of oil

reck his rod: regard God’s power, authority, or synecdoche for land as in Isaiah 2:1 “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse.”


synecdoche: figure of speech in which a part represents the whole, as in the expression "hired hands" for workmen or, less commonly, the whole represents a part, as in the use of the word "society" to mean high society. Closely related to metonymy--the replacement of a word by one closely related to the original--synecdoche is an important poetic device for creating vivid imagery. An example is Samuel Taylor Coleridge's line in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "The western wave was all aflame," in which "wave" substitutes for "sea."


A Hopkins Reader, p. 11

Compare with his prose commentary on The Exercises [of St, Ignatius of Loyola]:

“all things therefore are charged with God, and if we know how to touch them give off sparks and take fire, yield drops and flow, ring and tell of Him. (Cf. p. 404 for more extensive quote.)

op cit, p. 30

...deep interest in social and political conditions

“’My Liverpool and Glasgow experience laid upon my mind a conviction, a truly crushing conviction, of the misery of the poor, in general of the degradation even of the race, of the hollowness of this century’s civilisation’...have a counterpart in poems like... ‘God’s Grandeur.’”

The Poet's Grave