And for all this, nature is never spent


“God’s Grandeur”
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.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877


I am not an avid reader of poetry, but this poem, a gift from a friend, stays close to my heart. I have read it so many times, I can easily recall it from memory. It is so beautiful, so wonderfully crafted, I am compelled to pass it on to you.
Hopkins was a Victorian poet and Catholic priest. Almost all of his poetry evokes or implies God. Sometimes he laments man’s departure from his spiritual self. There is no doubt ‘Grandeur’ is a sermon of sorts, but I share it with you because it is also a poem about nature’s resiliency.
Is the world cooling? Heating up? Polluted and overpopulated? The answer to all these questions is probably “yes.” But Manley says nature is “never spent” and the morning always “springs.” I’ve read the Earth’s day was only eighteen hours in millennia past. Before that it was a furnace with rains of acid and ash. There were several major extinctions. The giant meteor, Nemesis, may have culled the dinosaurs.
Our Earth is older and cooler now. No doubt it will keep changing long after we’re gone. And that’s the hope: the engine of the world, the complex spirit within, has a long way to go.

People can’t sense this anymore. We’re “shod,” incapable of feeling the soil. Yet the natural response is happening … even now.
Have heart! Observe the natural world. Extend your perception. And maybe on a nice day, take off your shoes.



  1. Thank you, yes I did. The top one was with my iPhone and the Pano app. The bottom one with my Canon pocket camera.

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