I think I first read any of Gerard Manley Hopkins work in my last year at High School. I was taken by his sprung rhythm which works a bit like syncopation in jazz music. His eye for detail and his descriptions took my breath away then and still do.. I find it hard to pick a poem to put here but this one is a fairly easy introduction, more so than many of his other poems. I've had a book of Hopkins on my desk for years and use it as a refreshment of spirit. When I left home, mine was packed away. After a few weeks here, I could not cope not having one around and in the thousands of books DIL has, she did not have a copy. I now have two. I just had to buy another.
Hopkins was a priest in the late nineteenth century but not all his poetry and writings have a religious theme.
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.