Poetry For All
Poetry For All
Feb 23, 2021
Episode 17: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Pied Beauty
Play • 15 min

Pied Beauty

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.

In this extraordinary curtal sonnet (a shortened sonnet, curtailed), Hopkins packs immense power. He uses the shortened form to heighten the emotion, drawing himself up short in the end with nothing else that can be said other than "Praise him." This week, we walk through these short lines and unfold some of the ways that Hopkins works.

Hopkins was an immensely influential poet of the Victorian era (late 1800s) whose work was not published or encountered until 1918 in the modernist era. He was a reclusive, Jesuit priest who struggled with depression, but who could also be given over to incredible acts of wonder and praise (as in this poem). He stands outside his time, and has been read and loved by poets of all different persuasions throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

For more informaiton on Hopkins, please see The Poetry Foundation.

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