Pied Beauty (Gerald Manley Hopkins)

Dappled Things

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)
Illustrated by Corrie Haffly.
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I remember learning this poem in school, and as a girl with a distinctively pied complexion (dappled all over with moles and freckles), seeing in this poem the possibility of my stippled skin being beautiful, rather than blemished.
I don’t worry about my freckles these days, but this poem is still special to me: I can’t drive past a field of cows without looking for the “brindled ones”, and seeing His handiwork there, too.

3 thoughts on “Pied Beauty (Gerald Manley Hopkins)

  1. So glad to see GMH here in your lineup! What an awesome poem this is. I think of it whenever I see pictures of farm fields like a quilt: “plotted and pieced.” Do you know his poem Spring & Fall? I always think of it this time of year.

    • I don’t know “spring and fall” 🙂 SO MANY TREASURES yet undiscovered by yours truly. Thanks for enjoying this poetry journey with me, Jeannie! -BL

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