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Radio 4’s Thought for the Day….

Written by Chris Routledge, 8th July 2009

To see the planet desecrated is to behold the undoing of God's creation.

The above subject was discussed on this morning's BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day, presented by Bishop James Jones of the Diocese of Liverpool.

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


Anyone catch Thought for the Day, or have any thoughts on today's subject?

If you missed it, Thought for the Day will be available on the iplayer shortly.

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