Monday, April 18, 2005


by Gerard Manley Hopkins

This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

* * *

Now I'm no environmentalist, not in the modern sense of the term. Yet at the same time, I am a tree-hugger, in the very literal sense. (Don't laugh!) I just love nature so much. And it makes me mad when people randomly cut down trees.

Nature is for man's enjoyment--so I don't advocate walled-off nature preserves no one can go to--but we ought actually to enjoy it. Not just by building little gardens and taming wildlife, either. I like weeds. Weedy greenbelts and backwoods trails are real nature, and you can learn more about the world and about man from a good wander in the woods than hours of reading Aristotle.

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet!


Meredith said...

Hurrah! Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet!

As you know, this is one of my favorite Hopkins poems. It's so much fun to say out loud, isn't it?

"And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn..."

Trees are very huggable. Madrone trees with their smooth trunks so cool in the summertime, redwoods with their fuzzy cinnamon bark... Ah, for the trees of home!

But the trees here are so beautifully green and thick. And the redbuds sending a corruscation of lavender shivering through the woods...

Sheila said...

Brr... I feel like the top of my head were physically taken off.

You are a fantastic poet, Meredith.