The Chelsea Flower Show this year has an overriding theme, reminding us that the natural world is in danger from an overwhelming humanity. This famous poem by the priest-poet Gerald Manley Hopkins speaks of a world infused by God, with a beauty and power that withstands human corruption. The poem begins with the assertion that God has “charged” the world with grandeur. It then describes the implications of this “charge.”
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.