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Manley Humility

May 20, 2011

Some of you might be wondering what I meant by a “manly humility” in my mini review of The Raw Men Empire. Gerard Manley Hopkins has a thing or two to teach us about what it means.

Hopkins is a genius of a poet. His poems are a joy to read, with their “striking experiments in meter and diction” (Norton Anthology) and boldness of expression.

Manley’s philosophy was that “The world is charged with the grandeur of God”, as “There lives the dearest freshness deep down in things.” This deep-down individual freshness is what Manley defined as inscape. He defined the ability to appreciate this pure identity in created things as instress.

But that’s enough about theory. Let’s hear from the man himself…

I know it’s not yet autumn, in fact it’s not even summer. May is the height of spring. But think back or forward, depending on whether you’re feeling retrospective or forward-thinking, to autumn. And take a moment to read this poem (simply because it’s beautiful):

Manley’s words – I lift, I lift up, heart, eyes… And the azurous hills are his world-wielding shoulder – recall those of Psalm 121, a Jewish song of ascents:

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Now that’s Manley humility.

(photo taken from


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