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Last Reviewed on October 11, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 474

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

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The multiple meanings of the word "charged" in this initial sentence are crucial to the poem. First, the world is powered with the grandeur of God. God's hand is in the details of all the natural world as its creator. Second, the word also connotes the idea of being tasked with protecting the grandeur that God has created, as inhabitants of this earth. And this sets up the central issue: sometimes, humans don't.

Why do men then now not reck his rod?

If humankind is charged with taking care of the earth, why do they not then fear God's anger if they fail to do so? The word "rod" here also carries additional connotations, such as the Biblical allusion to Proverbs 13:24: "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them." Perhaps God will use discipline to remind His children of their duties on Earth.

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil
Many generations of humans of trod over the surface of the earth, wearing it down with trade, which has a distinctly negative connotation here. In the quest for money, power, and material wealth, humankind has taken advantage of the earth given to them. They have "smeared" it with their labors, damaging the crisp beauty God created.
the soil
Is bare now
Humans are exhausting the world's resources, leaving the Earth "bare" compared to what God created. This stanza ends in a tone of hopelessness, as it seems life is unsustainable given humankind's abuse of the earth. If soil is depleted of its nutrients, we can no longer use it for its life-giving capabilities.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things
God protects humans from themselves here, never allowing us to completely exhaust nature's capacities. For "deep down," nature still thrives under the Earth's surface, forever capable of producing life anew.
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
In Matthew 3:16, it is written:
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
This allusion to the Holy Spirit's presence at Christ's baptism is seen in this poem as also being with the world, guiding and nurturing humankind, acting as a conscience. God is forever patient with humankind, even "brooding" in familiar warmth. Humans, therefore, are like the young birds which are in need of protection, not realizing how their actions impact the world. God keeps providing for humans, who are also his creations, by bringing them renewed sustenance, protection, and love.

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"The World Is Charged With The Grandeur Of God"

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