Binsey Poplars, felled 1879

Another Hopkins poem, a lament written in saddened outrage at the felling of these trees, but which I love for the pleasure of the rhyme and rhythm and for the startling, shocking imagery in the second part.

Binsey Poplars, felled in 1879

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. 


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