Gerard Manley Hopkins

(28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889 / Stratford, Essex)

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 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 made 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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Jacob Bearer (7/3/2012 8:03:00 PM)

    Although I enjoy Hopkins' poetry very much, I find this poem to be a bit preachy; and because of that it loses its over-all affect - at least in my opinion. I think a poem should be able to draw me into a scene, image, reality and let it do the talking...Usually 'ol Jerry can do that, but this one seems a bit off. Thoughts? (Report) Reply

  • Carole Burr (2/18/2006 10:20:00 AM)

    I love the language of this poem. It brilliantly evokes images of the rural environment. The poet seems to have been sensitive to man's imprint on the countryside. Yet it could be suggested that this is a rather romantic notion of rural life and he seems to have not considered the fact that most rural scenes - particulary idylic ones - are actually man-made. (Report) Reply

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