Mary Lou Taylor & Mary Warner: A favorite poem

God’s Grandeur
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I first read this poem in my sophomore year in high school, an all-girls’ Catholic academy.  A spiritual poem, I thought, but with such exultation, such beauty in images, such depth dealing with nature, the world, God, the dawn.  So hard to read aloud.  I practiced, joined a group where we were a concertof voices reciting poetry aloud.  For a time I had it memorized.It was only in the last few years that its sonnet structure appeared to me.  The craftsmanship—alliteration, internal rhyme, repetition.  I know that “The Windhover” is the poem he loved the most, but “God’s Grandeur” is my favorite.

Mary Lou Taylor, Octogenarian
Retired Teacher, Poet


My favorite poem is “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.  It’s a poem that I see as a “sacred” text of literature (used it in my doctoral dissertation), but especially powerful to me is that though
“Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;/And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil…” that “…for all of this, nature is never spent.”

Dr. Mary Warner
Associate Professor of English
Director of the English Credential Program, SJSU
San Jose

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



Filed under Favorite Poem

3 responses to “Mary Lou Taylor & Mary Warner: A favorite poem

  1. To Dr. Mary Warner:
    It certainly pleased me that someone else placed this poem at the high point of a poetry list. So much in it.
    I hope we meet some day.
    Mary Lou Taylor

    • Mary Warner

      Dear Mary Lou,

      It would be fun to meet someday. I’m a faculty member at San Jose State U — I direct English Ed so in addition to advising, supervising, doing a variety of activities to help prepare future English teachers, I also teach Lit. for Young Adults and the Bible as Literature.

      Best to you,

  2. Have to answer your comment. I was once a future English teacher. My first job was in 1971 at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino. I was there ten years, teaching Composition, Humanities, Short Story, American Lit (my major), BOC (Basic Oral Communication), Speech and Debate, and whatever else came my way. Two of my “kids” took first and third at Speech Nationals in Indianapolis.
    I left for five years, then went back to Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, where I taught Writing for College.
    I retired in the early ’90s. A most satisfying teaching time.
    And then I started writing poetry. Wish I had taken the Bible as literature.
    Mary Lou

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