As in his poem 'God's Grandeur' (on the Leaving Cert course), Hopkins was well ahead of his time in his concern for our environment (for him, of course, a manifestation of God's presence). He wrote this poem after seeing that trees near Oxford had disappeared. In the words of the biographer Robert Bernard Martin, 'the destruction seemed an emblem of the loss that man inflicts on the planet.'
Poster (above) by Lily Guinness.
'Binsey Poplars', by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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.