by Jane St. Clair
The first time I read Gerald Manley Hopkins’ poem, “Pied Beauty,” I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. Dappled things?
Was he really thanking God for the speckles on trout? After all, that’s what “stipple on trout” means.
Trout are pretty cool looking, but really?
The next thing you know Hopkins is thanking God for the stripes on cows. Stripes on cows are also cool, but yet …
The more I thought about Hopkins’ words and kept looking around me, I finally understood what he meant by Pied Beauty. Gerald Manley Hopkins meant that speckled or dappled things as well as striped or brinded things are all around you, and they are beautiful in their own way.
Beautiful striped skies, for example.
Or the way that tree shadows form long wavy stripes on sand …
Or even everyday striped things like an everyday striped cat …
Then I began to see dappled things … the dappled things all around us … like pebbles in speckled patterns …
And how wildflowers can be dappled too …
The ability to see dappled and brinded things is a beautiful revelation.. because as Simon and Garfunkel wrote, once you’re dappled, you love life. ..
“…I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep. Let the morning time drop all its petals on me. Life, I love you, All is groovy …”
Thank you, Brother Gerald, for opening us up to dappled things.
Pied Beauty by Gerald Manley Hopkins
GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-color 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: