God’s Grandeur – Gerard Manley Hopkins

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 (1844 -1889)

What a powerful first line ‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God’. The operative word is ‘charged’ as though the world is some amazing battery of energy and through some unfathomable process became alive – like an umbilical cord of love permeating existence with the grandness of God.  ‘Full’ would not do as an alternative word for ‘charged’ implies the ongoing dynamism of life.

The first 8 lines of this sonnet lament on searing, blearing and smearing – the way humanity has defaced the ‘grandeur of God’ and asks the question ‘why is this so’. The last of these lines give some reason ‘nor can foot feel, being shod’ – a loss of direct contact with nature. So what does this say about the world today with the increasing electronic dislocation with the physical.

But the concluding six lines give hope – ‘nature is never spent’ … and particularly the spirit of God (the Holy Ghost) is still a deep down saving force – ‘with warm breast and with ah! bright wings’. It is nice to end on an optimistic note!

It is Easter when many think of the link between humanity and God and traditionally a God external from the world. But that magnificent first line brings God firmly down to earth. Stephen Hawking in his book ‘The Brief History of Time’ suggests a possible scenario where the universe is a self-contained boundless system with no beginning and no end and he asks where does a ‘creator’ fit into the equation (if you excuse the pun). Well perhaps God has always been here and is very much an integral part in all life and the on-going evolution of the universe. So perhaps we should try more to work with God in the endless journey to improve the universe for all, not easy to do of course!

But Easter Sunday is a great day to just appreciate and celebrate the impressive beauty of our world. Enjoy today whether or not the sun is shining in your world.

More commentary on this poem 

… and my response to that first line

Gerard Manley Hopkins on Wikipedia 

When my love swears – Sonnet 138 – Shakespeare

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutored youth,
Unlearnèd in the world’s false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
Oh, love’s best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told.
Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

William Shakespeare (Sonnet 138)

This sonnet is all about acceptance … acceptance of the imperfections of another that they too will accept the imperfections that exist in you.

In a way it is a love sonnet for love totally disregards the faults of others … well, perhaps not quite… may be a subtle approach is needed if correction is warranted … timing is important and at this moment there is total acceptance to the extent that both parties delight in a pretense – in imaging the untruth as true.

So perhaps love is a ‘trading of imperfections’ – though we can hardly call age an imperfection but a nice trade to be seen as young again and age to be ignored – And age in love loves not to have years told!


Leaving Nancy – Eric Bogle

Leaving Nancy

In comes the train and the whole platform shakes
It stops with a shudder and a screaming of brakes
The parting has come and my weary soul aches
I’m leaving my Nancy, oh

But you stand there so calmly determinedly gay
You talk of the weather and events of the day
And your eyes tell me all that your tongue doesn’t say
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows

My suitcase is lifted and stowed on the train
And a thousand regrets whirl around in my brain
The ache in my heart is a black sea of pain
I’m leaving my Nancy, oh

But you stand there beside me so lovely to see
The grip of your hand is an unspoken plea
You’re not fooling yourself and you’re not fooling me
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows

But our time has run out and the whistle has blown
Here I must leave you standing alone
We had so little time and now the time’s gone
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And as the train starts gently to roll
And as I lean out to wave and to call
I see the first tears trickle and fall
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows

Eric Bogle (1944 –

Eric Bogle left Scotland for Canberra, Australia in 1969. Nancy was his mother and this was the last time he saw her. A very poignant poem (lyrics) the more so for me and anyone who has come to Australia from England and left parents behind; and Eric Bogle captures that moment of departure easily visualised by ‘your eyes tell me all that your tongue doesn’t say’ … it is a moment of such emotional intensity that feelings overwhelm a person negating any attempt at word expression.

There comes a time to leave parents – ‘our time has run out’, just as departure time dictates the leaving of the train. Each stanza has rhyme ‘aaa’ plus the repeat of the lament – ‘Good bye my Nancy, oh’. And the nice rhythm is in line with that of the train as it starts moving, traveling with the same beat of the words of the poem.

The above lyrics are based on his poem of the same name … the poem not having the repetition of the refrain.

There is a very poignant recording of Eric singing this on YouTube.

And details on Eric Bogle on Wikipedia.

Footnote …

There is a difference between metre and rhythm. Meter is the particular formal structure such as iambic pentameter … e.g. – each line = low High (x5) – ‘I love to go a wandering along …’ … whereas rhythm is the beat equivalent to that in music. The underlying beat of a poem is not always stressed by a reader. And a poem may have periodic beat if that is appropriate in the poetic expression of the words.


Christmas Day – A Fibonacci Poem

Christmas Day

is a
special day
for celebration
it is that one day in the year
when Christians stop to honour the birth of Jesus Christ
and Christ love becomes married with all humanity in the destiny of the world

Richard Scutter

The Fibonacci numbers are the numbers in the following integer sequence, called the Fibonacci sequence, and characterized by the fact that every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones: 1 , 1 , 2 , 3 , 5 , 8 , 13 , 21 , 34 , 55 , 89 , 144 , …

A Fibonacci poem … each line has the number of syllables that follow this sequence.

Footnote …

Considering someone who was very Christ-Centric in his spiritual thought …

No work of the great believer Teilhard de Chardin can be understood except in relation to his ‘fundamental vision’ – as Christ as all-in-everything, of the universe moved and com-penetrated by God in the totality of its evolution.

– comment by the French Editor of Le Milieu Divin by Teilhard de Chardin

(com – penetrated  – converting and penetrating)

When ‘we’ create something part of us is always reflected in that creation and when we are not quite happy with it we continue to improve it to the way we eventually would like it to be … unless, of course, it is a continuing improving phenomenon without end.

All the best to everyone in this wonderful wide world.

Enjoy this time with family and friends.

Christmas Time – time to enjoy …


‘Riversdale’ – National Trust Property, Goulburn NSW on their Open Day 5 November

Christmas Time

Christmas time and holy bells chime
family time
and even if family are away
enjoy the day!

in the bright sun of Christmas morn
Christ was born!

it’s not the time to be forlorn
so please join in and play your part
tolerate the family fart!

family time, enjoy the day! Christ was born!

Richard Scutter

A Christmas Ovillejo, a Spanish poetic form …

10 lines
3 rhyming couplets, lines of eight syllables
second lines (lines 2,4,6) are short and only 3 or 4 syllables and are a reflection or comment on the first line of the couplet
then a quatrain ‘abba’
last line combines line 2, 4, and 6 as one line

Enjoyment may not be easy for those that find Christmas a very difficult time of the year for whatever reason.

Little Jack Horner – Discussion

Little Jack Horner

Sat in the corner
Eating a Christmas pie.
He stuck in his thumb
And pulled out a plum
And said, “What a good boy am I!”


Discussion …

What is the meaning behind the well-known words of this nursey rhyme …

… my thoughts …… he sat in the corner … perhaps he didn’t want to be found out that he had taken the pie, he wanted to secretly have it to himself and not be disturbed … and what was he after – plums! … he ignored the pastry and put in his thumb searching for one … he seems impatient to get to the inside … though the pie is much more!… and he does seem to be a little self-centred and that anything slightly fortunate is due to him being good and deserving of such fortune … what if the plum had a stone which cracked a tooth … would that have indicated that he had done something bad.

… this nursery rhyme was given as the chapter-title-poem on Meaning and Idea in Laurence Perrine’s excellent book Literature – Structure, Sound, and Sense (isbn 0-15-55 1100-9) … the interpretation …the pie exists for the plum (at least for Jack) though the pie is much more! … poetry (pie) is more than just meaning (plum) … savour the whole poetry pie please … don’t just look for meaning … that’s right eat the pastry and enjoy with your custard! … take a holistic approach when reading poetry … don’t just search for your plums … savour the total poetic experience … even if the essence of the poem is alien to your point of view … and poems are not word puzzles to be interrogated by the mind of the reader seeking some justification for their existencu.

Well Christmas is coming and I guess presents will come your way in some form or other. So make sure you inspect the card carefully and unwrapp slowly and when you sight the the unwanted (don’t go plum crazy) be generous in your response no matter what … quite often the ‘unwanted’ can eventually be of use to you or someone else … and if you are a poet you should be well versed in the use of your imagination!

Footnotes …

… funny that even today some still think that if something “unfortunate” happens it is due to that person being bad … and globally the current world woes are, of course, due to the world being bad

The origins/history according to the Site below give a different perspective on this nursery rhyme … http://www.rhymes.org.uk/little_jack_horner.htm
… funny place to put valuables – in a pie … there again we used to have a coin in the family Christmas pudding … a three-penny piece from memory. And I must admit that as a child the main focus was on getting a coin.

Framed in a first-storey winder … Anonymous

Framed in a first-storey winder …

Framed in a first-storey winder of a burnin’ buildin’
Appeared: A Yuman Ead!
Jump into this net, wot we are ‘oldin’
And yule be quite orl right!
But ‘ee wouldn’t jump …
And the flames grew Igher and Igher and Igher

Framed in a second-storey winder of a burnin’ buildin’
Appeared: A Yuman Ead!
Jump into this net, wot we are ‘oldin’
And yule be quite orl right!
But ‘ee wouldn’t jump …
And the flames grew Igher and Igher and Igher

Framed in a third-storey winder of a burnin’ buildin’
Appeared: A Yuman Ed!
Jump into this net, wot we are ‘oldin’
And yule be quite orl right!
And ‘ee jumped …
And ‘ee broke ‘is blooming neck!


A poem that leads you higher and higher to a climax in the so important last line.

You have to know who to trust. The reason this poem is anonymous ‘cos the guy who ‘rote it was the guy in the street telling the person what to do like!

China – wise sayings and concise words

China – wise sayings and concise words …

In early days it was so important to create words that were memorable and catchy to facilitate dissemination given that word of mouth (excuse the pun) was the only way to communicate … hence the importance of the actual words and their association, plus linking to rhyme and song to further remembrance and usage in the populace.

Most Chinese proverbs are based on historical events and the greatest number originates from that rich period of history, the third century BC, when the first Emperor of China reigned (Qin Shi Huang). He was the sovereign who united China, built the Great Wall, and created the magnificent tombs with the army of terracotta warriors.

An example … Govern the country like you would cook a small fish

My (an) interpretation … Fish = Wealth … treat the country as though you have little and therefore respect every element that you have … not wasting any part … therefore take great care in making use of all that is covered in your governance (cook gently and caringly so not to spoil) … and in your own house where you can enhance that resource with your own personal touch

Recommended reading for those interested in history connected to words is … A Thousand Pieces of Gold … A memoir of China’s past through its proverbs by Adeline Yen Mah … … this book describes the meeting of Adeline and Philip Larkin who described Chinese proverbs as ‘white dwarfs of literature’ … white dwarfs = tiny stars whose atoms are packed so closely together that their weight is immense compared to their size … proverbs being densely compacted with thoughts and ideas

Sample Proverbs …

One written word is worth a thousand pieces of gold

Clapping with one hand produces no sound

Binding your feet to prevent your own progress

When a tree falls the monkeys scatter

Adeline Yen Mah on Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adeline_Yen_Mah … and here is a link to Chinese Proverbs on Wikiquote … http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Chinese_proverbs

Footnote … Adeline also states that the equivalent to Shakespeare in China is Sima-Qian (145 – 90BC) a Chinese historian who lived during the Han dynasty. He wrote only one book Shiji (Historical Record) which was published after his death and has been a bestseller since … perhaps the greatest Chinese book ever written.

Wikipedia Link … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sima_Qian