MARGARET WARNER: Finally tonight, another sampling from former poet
laureate Robert Pinsky's project of asking Americans to read their favorite
poem. Tonight's reading is also an introduction to the new poet laureate,
Stanley Kunitz. He was named to the post last month and, at the age
of 95, he becomes the nation's tenth poet laureate. Here he is in a
reading taped late last year.
STANLEY KUNITZ: I'm Stanley Kunitz. I live in New York City. I published
my first book of poems some 70 years ago. Back in 1926, I was roaming
through the stacks of the Widener Library at Harvard. While I was walking
through the section on English poetry of the 19th century, I just at
random lifted my arm and picked a book off the shelf. It was an attributed
to an author I was not familiar with, Gerard Manley Hopkins. The page
that I turned to and began to read was a page devoted to a poem called
"God's Grandeur." I couldn't believe what I was reading when I opened
this book and started reading that poem. It really shook me, because
it was unlike anything else I had ever read before. When I started reading
it, suddenly that whole book became alive to me. It was filled with
such a lyric passion. It was so fierce and eloquent, wounded and yet
radiant, that I knew that it was speaking directly to me and giving
me a hint of the kind of poetry that I would be dedicated to for the
rest of my life
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.