Poetry: Pied Beauty


This poem from the Victorian era by Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the best examples of his groundbreaking gift for language.

A middle-class Anglican, he felt called to enter the Catholic priesthood.  A troubled soul, he was viewed as a literary rebel.  A lover of nature, he also sketched.

Pied Beauty has been a literary talisman for me since childhood.

  •  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.

Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

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