According to the speaker of the poem, human beings have alienated themselves from God by ceasing to fear divine punishment, "his rod," and by separating themselves from God's creation of nature. Though the soil is "bare now," our feet cannot feel it because they are "shod": we wear shoes to protect ourselves from the land, and this is symbolic of our emotional estrangement from all of nature. The "grandeur" or greatness of God is visible, should be discernible by us, and yet, generations of people have simply "trod" and "trod" and "trod." It is as though we only go about our lives without taking notice of the grandeur and beauty around us, the beauty that God has created. Words like "seared" and "bleared" and "smeared" and "smudge" all have quite negative connotations, suggesting that we have burned, confused, disrupted, corrupted, and made dirty the creation. We have tainted it with our "smell," making it less beautiful than it once was. In all of these ways, we have alienated ourselves from God because we have taken for granted and even abused his creation. Despite all our abuse, however, "nature is never spent," and it seems as though God's love will not be either, then, so the poem ends on a more hopeful note than it begins.