Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Sometimes when I say, "It's freezing outside!" it's just hyperbole meaning I feel cold out there, but today it literally is freezing. My water feature is frozen over, and the ground feels hard underfoot.

Two trains of thought related to "the ground under foot." One was remembering how a few years ago I was troubled by painful plantar fasciitis, which is a shooting pain in the heel. The first standing on my feet in the morning was sometimes agonizing. One day I was in the parking lot of a grocery store and, walking from my car to the store, I walked on pavement, then over a grass median, and then pavement. I noticed the pain in my feet decreased when I walked on the grass, and I realized that I was walking on hard surfaces most of the time. I also realized, upon reflection, that I wore mostly flat shoes that did not cushion my feet from the pavement. Also, I live in a basement apartment where under the flooring is the cement foundation of the house--not even as much give as a wood floor. So I invested in better-cushioned shoes and, even in the house, where I  used to always be in stocking feet, I started to wear slip-ons with some give--often Birkenstocks. Sure enough, my feet soon stopped hurting.

Those thoughts took less time to think than to write, and then a fragment of poetry came to me, "nor can feet feel--." The context is, "Nor can feet feel, being shod." That's kind of against the point of my wearing shoes for my feet's health, but it is about walking on unnatural surfaces. It comes from Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, "God's Grandeur":

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.

Not a bad poem to contemplate as we approach the New Year. I tried to find a good recording of this poem on youtube, but they were all either accompanied by music or not a reading I cared for. Apparently several composers have also set it to music, but I didn't care for any of those renditions either. Just the word, please.

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