Study Guide

God’s Grandeur Summary

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

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God’s Grandeur Summary

"God’s Grandeur" starts off with a claim: the earth is full God’s special power, God’s vitality. But the earth is ultimately temporary. The fire will go from it one day. It will reach a peak, then slowly spread, and then collapse. (This is confusing – don’t try to take Hopkins too literally. Let your imagination feel and see the images he presents).

The speaker states that the natural world is inseparable from God, but at the same time temporary. The speaker wants to know why don’t people don't take better care of the natural world. Why don’t they recognize and respect the power of God that is running through our environment? He says that people have been endlessly tromping and trudging through the world for so long, and now the surface of the earth is calloused and burnt over by industry. It looks blurry and out of focus with all this industry, and endless hard work covering it.

According to the speaker, we humans stunk up the earth – everything looks and smells like people, and all the bad things people do. (The speaker doesn’t sound too keen on people here.) The ground we walk on doesn’t have any flowers or trees or grass on it. And we have to wear shoes, so we can no longer feel the ground itself. We have lost our connection with the natural world.

But don’t worry – the speaker assures us – nature never stops. It’s hiding underground, like a hidden spring. And even though the sun always sets in the west bringing darkness and night, it always rises again in the east, bringing light and morning.

The speaker assures us that morning follows night, and light follows darkness, because the Holy Ghost is always hovering over the messed up world, pondering deeply, and worried. The upside, though, is that the Holy Ghost watches over the world and treats it in much the same way a bird would treat her unhatched eggs, providing comfort, security, warmth, beauty, and motion.

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