Poetry Review: “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

nev-trout-stampHopkins is, of course, Roman Catholic… the most Roman Catholic of all English poets. His art and vision is rooted in his theology, his language in the singularity of his position as outsider. Like American fiction writer Flannery O’Connor, being the ultimate “outsider” leads Hopkins to heights of artistic and intellectual uniqueness.

In the English speaking world (with the obvious exception of “mad Ireland”) there is, of course, no greater outsideness than being a practicing Roman Catholic. Foibles and intellectual inconsistencies of a thousand kinds can be easily forgiven and overlooked for the most part in the ivory towers and coffee shops of American and English intellectualism, with the exception of this one. Roman Catholicism remains anathema… the unpardonable intellectual and cultural sin.

Even if Hopkins were not such a unique and wonderful poet, I would love him for his status as ultimate outsider, just as I love O’Connor.

I have not posted a poetry review for awhile. A Hopkins poem seems like just the thing.


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.


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