Long live the wilderness with Gerard Manley Hopkins

Are you ever drawn to natural, wild, wilderness places?  This post was inspired by a line in a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins – “Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet” – and also by a surprising natural encounter I had recently.

Hopkins’ poem celebrates wild natural beauty but is quite a challenging read because of the way he likes to use unusual words and unusual syntax.  If you want to read it, I suggest you just let the bits you don’t follow just “wash over you” and just enjoy the general impression of the wonderful way he uses words…

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.


For me, Lif4Gd involves feeling connected with nature. In Shropshire, where I live, the wilderness is never far away, and is part of what makes life good:

The wild birds inhabit these hills

               and I, a walker,

glancing down the valley

               dazzled by gleaming lights

                              flung across the fields like necklaces

I feel connected with the wind

               the grass under my feet

                              God’s sky above my head.

Yesterday as I was walking Rae Brook Nature Reserve in Shrewsbury I spotted a dipper (these are usually mountain stream birds in the UK) dancing around the edges of the Rae Brook.  “Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet” indeed.  Nature is full of surprises and offers a deep connection to humanity.

A dipper

Some Questions to Ponder

  1. Do you feel connected to, or separate from, nature?  How could you get more connected?
  2. What places of natural wildness and wilderness mean a lot to you?  What have been some of your most surprising and memorable encounters of connection with nature?

By all means leave a comment if the post or the questions made you want to share your own thoughts.

Best wishes,


3 thoughts on “Long live the wilderness with Gerard Manley Hopkins

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s