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Friday, December 30, 2011

Pied Beauty


Each Friday we provide the link to the blog that is hosting a celebration of poetry around the blogosphere. At that site you can find the links to the many other blogs that are posting poems (new and old), discussions of poems, and reviews of poetry books.

Enjoy the festivities!

The host this week is Julie Larios. You can visit her here at The Drift Record.



(Wild Boar Piglet, 1578, by Hans Hoffmann, circa 1530-
1591, German artist whose watercolors of animals are
sometimes mistaken for Albrecht Dürer’s work)

We conclude this month’s study of the sonnet with one of my favorites.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1899) is an English poet of the Romantic tradition. Like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and John Clare, he looks not to man’s technological achievements but to Nature as the source of happiness and beauty, a mortal beauty that “keeps warm / Men’s wits to the things that are.”

The poem below is one of Hopkins’s variations on the Petrarchan sonnet, which he calls a “curtal” or restricted sonnet, made up of only ten and a half lines. With an “octave” of six lines of specific examples and a “sestet” of four and a half lines of descriptive adjectives, the sonnet explains Hopkins’s definition of beauty.


According to the Hopkins scholar Peter Milward, this is “essentially ‘pied beauty’ — beauty that is intricately interwoven with white and black, light and darkness, summer and winter, day and night, heaven and earth. Upon this fundamental contrast supervene the varied colors of the rainbow, even as the rising of the sun over the earth imparts to all things a dappled or mottled appearance and diversifies them in almost unlimited individuality.”

PIED BEAUTY

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 all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swíft, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

4 comments:

Linda at teacherdance said...

How can one not love to look at these lines & think of those things mentioned & then repeat Hopkins' first line "Glory be to God for dappled things — ". Thank you for this last look, and a look at a different kind of sonnet.

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Mary Lee said...

Sigh.
One of my favorite favorites.
"He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change"--perfect for thinking about a new year!

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Like Mary Lee, my favorite lines are the last two: He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him"
- it takes a poet to describe these everyday things (moles, firecoals, chestnuts, birds) with such grandeur. :)