Binsey Poplars

"Binsey Poplars" is a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889), written in 1879.[1][2] The poem was inspired by the felling of a row of poplar trees near the village of Binsey, northwest of Oxford, England, and overlooking Port Meadow on the bank of the River Thames.[3] The replacements for these trees, running from Binsey north to Godstow, lasted until 2004, when replanting began again.[4]

‘All felled, felled, are all felled’ — photograph of felled poplar trees with a line from the poem ‘Binsey Poplars’.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, author of ‘Binsey Poplars’.

The Bodleian Library of Oxford University holds a draft manuscript of the poem, handwritten by Hopkins, acquired in 2013.[5]

The poemEdit

The text of the poem is as follows:[6][7]

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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "19, Binsey Poplars". Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89): Poems. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  2. ^ ""Binsey Poplars" (1879)". Hopkins's Poetry. SparkNotes. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  3. ^ Thornton, Jim (12 December 2002). "The Binsey Poplars". Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  4. ^ Hatts, Leight (2005). The Thames Path. Cicerone Press. ISBN 978-1-85284-436-3.
  5. ^ "Bodleian acquires manuscript of Hopkins poem 'Binsey Poplars'". Bodleian Library, Oxford University. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Binsey Poplars by Gerard Manley Hopkins". Poem. Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  7. ^ "Binsey Poplars". Retrieved 2 February 2014.

External linksEdit