Radio 4’s Thought for the Day….
To see the planet desecrated is to behold the undoing of God's creation.
In his discussion, Bishop James made reference to the poem Binsey Poplars by Gerard Manley Hopkins; in which Hopkins expresses his outrage at the felling in 1879 of an avenue of grand poplar trees, which once ran along the side of the river Thames between Oxford and the village of Binsey.
In the poem, Hopkins mourns the loss of his 'dear aspens', and condemns man's unecessary interference with the power and beauty of nature; regretfully noting that 'Even where we mean / To mend her we end her'. You'll find Binsey Poplars below, where Hopkins' fury, sadness, and indignation at man's arrogance in robbing future generations of the chance to ever know this 'beauty-been' is evident.
Binsey Poplars, Felled 1879
My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being so slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1879
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