Pied Beauty

A weekend hike in Eno River State Park and the way the sun shone through the windows this morning reminded me of this poem, an old favorite. The fall weather here does not disappoint, and my favorite part of our hike was seeing turtles sunning themselves on the creek rocks- their necks craned toward the sun like they were drinking it.

We are all a bit “dappled,” “fickle,” and “freckled,” and I like that his poem focuses on beauty found not in perfection but variety- all the colors of green on walk in the woods, the many colors in the iris of your eyes, thick layers of paint on a canvas, and the many colors of white in limestone- all made better by the inconsistency that creates its own harmony.

Not to mention that Hopkins creates fabulous musicality with his choice of wording. The alliteration of “fathers-forth” actually pulls you forward with the phrase, and somehow you can almost taste on your tongue the sights of the “swift, slow; sweet, adazzle.” Glory be to God for these things indeed.

Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
            Praise him.
*Bolded words simply denote lines I especially like. A colleague of mine once described these as “golden nuggets.” Simply starting with what jumps out to you is a great way to begin when you are faced with a difficult poem (or really any poem).

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