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The Little Review
Making No Compromises With the Public Taste
Poem for Sunday 
Sunday, 16th March 2008 12:30 am

God's Grandeur
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

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.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, in which Mary Karr writes about Lent: "During my own dark nights of the soul, I often find comfort in the 'terrible sonnets' of poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, for they show the depths of spiritual agony even the faithful endure. Hopkins's crippling depression was countered by faith that each particular object in creation had a luminous particularity or 'thisness' -- an inward landscape he called 'inscape' -- the essence of the thing -- shaped by a divine force he called 'instress.' Letting instress thrust you into an inscape is one way to apprehend Christ...this physicality informs the dark sonnets both musically and in carnal detail."

I have spent nearly the entire day at the University of Maryland, where Adam attended the science expo alone for three hours -- parents were not allowed into the Armory during the judging -- while I walked a great deal of the campus, took some photos, visited the student union where it turned out that all the restaurants were closed for spring break, walked down to Baltimore Avenue (Route One) and found a little Korean restaurant with fantastic bubble tea, visited the Maryland Book Exchange and bought Testudo sweatshirts on sale, circled through some of the new dormitories back to the Armory and eventually retrieved Adam, who declared that he had been "bored beyond bored" during the long wait for the judges, but revived when was offered the opportunity to go out for Thai food for dinner and play Wii late in the evening.

Meanwhile Daniel texted me several times with hilarious l33tspeke messages from the robotics meet in Annapolis, where he discovered that Mac computers have the equivalent of the Windows blue screen of death and where his team made the semifinals, but because the teams must form alliances with other teams to foster cooperation and another team in his alliance had problems with their robot, his team was then eliminated. He seems to be taking this entirely in stride but apparently some of the kids from his school were very upset. He is already looking forward to next year's build season despite having spent 10-12 hours every weekend for months working on the robot, so I must declare this extracurricular an extraordinary success!

Parents milling around outside the Reckord Armory at the University of Maryland, which hosted the Science Montgomery expo. (It was never used to store armaments but serves as a gym, exhibition hall and auditorium; note the basketball hoop in photo below.)

This is Adam's science project on composting, specifically how moisture levels affect decomposition. (He might have lost points with the serious Intel judges for having included a photo of himself with his "lab assistant" Daisy, but he wanted it and his teacher thought it was adorable.)

This is the University of Maryland's Anne Arundel Hall, one of several campus buildings with a cupola. This is one of the prettiest college campuses anywhere, and I'm including Oxford and Mount Holyoke; if you've seen National Treasure: Book of Secrets, you know what I mean.

Holzapfel Hall was where Helen Mirren's character's office was in National Treasure. In the film, she was an expert on ancient languages, but in real life, this is where the horticulture department is located.

When I was an instructor, Taliaferro (pronounced Tolliver) was the home of the English department, but that has since moved to Susquehanna Hall.

The reason the buildings have such uniform Colonial-style architecture is that the entire university including the dormitories burned to the ground in 1912. Nearly everything currently standing was designed to conform stylistically when the campus was rebuilt.

Here is the chapel near sunset on Friday evening. It is booked nearly every weekend for student, staff and alumni weddings.

We did go out for Thai food -- well, actually, by the time Daniel's carpool got back to Silver Spring, it was so late and the kids were so hungry that we went to the mall food court, where Adam and I had Thai food while Daniel and Paul had subs and pizza. Then we came home pretty wiped out, though naturally the kids had enough energy to catch up on all the Wii they hadn't been able to play earlier in the weekend. And I snickered my way through The Onion's "Novelists Strike Fails To Affect Nation Whatsoever." Heeee, even Hollywood unaffected!
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