A Jesuit priest, Hopkins was virtually anonymous as a poet in his life. He gave up writing poetry when he entered the Society of Jesus, but a superior urged him to write a poem in honor of five nuns killed in a shipwreck. The result was his dense epic “The Wreck of the Deutschland.” Still he earned no fame as a poet, though he continued to write, AMDG, and a friend published the first volume of his poetry after Hopkins’s death.
I go for simpler fare. This sonnet is a favorite of mine. To me, it’s about the constant renewal of the world, the Church, and our faith:
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 o’er the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.