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Karl Cassel
ENG 141B Calloway
04/03/14
Word Count: 1,323

Pied Beauty
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

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 ll trdes, 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.

Beautiful Imperfections

Is there truly beauty in imperfection? In Pied Beauty, Gerard Manley Hopkins

illuminates the idea of finding beauty in unique aspects of imperfections in life. Nature plays a

crucial role in the exploration of Hopkinss two-toned aspects within creation. From cows to

trout to landscape, quirks and uniqueness stand out and paint the picture of the value and detail

within each dimension. Hopkins uses a variety of literary devices to help the reader along in their

understanding of the aspects of nature that might not be acknowledged and then points these

things back to their creator, giving Him praise. This poem is extremely relevant in that the all-

powerful, never-changing God of Christianity finds beauty in His creations imperfections and

differentiations. This embrace of imperfection and abnormality speaks a great deal louder when

expressed by a troubled, depressed man in search of worth and meaning in his life.
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Beginning with the title, Hopkins states the direction of the poem with the word, pied,

meaning, having two or more different colors and continues this throughout as he examines

various parts of nature. From the skies of couple-colour and brindled cow, to the finches

wings and landscape, the texture and visual chaos is given attention (line 2, 4, 5).

Secondly, being an ordained priest, Hopkins frames this poem almost as if it were a prayer,

praising God for his creation of diversity and uniqueness among creation. Due to Hopkinss

religious understanding, this poem is considered to be similar to the Psalms. The Catholic faith,

however, took its toll on Hopkins, leaving him with a tremendous sense of guilt and lack of

motivation resulting in the great delay in the publication of most of his works. These details

within the poem shed insightful light on the tone and the authors view of personal imperfections

and the beauty within. This concept of the authors personal interaction can be seen in line 8

where Hopkins expresses, (who knows how?) in intrigue as to how beauty and diversity came

to the various aspects of nature.

Next, it should be noted that Hopkins became well known for his use of sprung rhythm in

which the first syllable is stressed and is then followed by any number of unstressed syllables.

This technique lacking true meter was used to imitate natural speech and broke the running

rhythm that was popular at this time. Looking to the rhyme scheme, it can be shown as abcabc,

dbede. This pattern is rather difficult, however, it is concluded nicely with the last line set apart

far to the right. This separation makes the reader briefly pause as they shift their eyes over to

Praise Him which concludes this prayer type of poem (line 11). This also gives a sense of

closure to the reader, as they are reassured of the beauty within imperfection of nature created by

an unchanging God.
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Hopkins also utilizes inscape and instress within this poem, exposing various two-toned

parts of nature. The inscape examines what makes each facet of nature unique where the instress

shows how they fit together or can be compared and contrasted. For example, For skies of

couple-colour as a brinded cow sheds light on two rather different areas of nature, yet brings

them together by examining their textural colors and pied design (line 2). Metaphors play a role

in Hopkinss writing, as well, including Line 2, which also provides a simile comparing the skies

to cows and their similar textural colors and disorder. The metaphor Fresh-firecoal chestnut-

falls follows in line 4 by comparing fallen chestnuts to coals in a fire (line 4). Both of these

metaphors enhance the imagery describing the details within nature, providing more evidence to

the beauty found in the imperfections of life.

Another influential device used by Hopkins is alliteration, particularly with the letter f.

In areas describing nature, such as Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches wings, the soft f

alliteration represents the gentleness of beauty within nature (line 4). This underlying gentleness

is unique because so often nature is portrayed as harsh and untamed, but in this case, the peace

and calmness of nature is the aspect of beauty being communicated by Hopkins. Continuing,

Hopkins uses three sets of contrasting words, swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim to enhance

his message of embracing differences and celebrating the beauty between them (line 9). These

contrasts between the opposite aspects of nature are fairly common, however, when brought

together and strung in succession, Hopkinss two-toned approach to the complexities of nature

becomes that much more apparent and effective in demonstrating the beauty in each.

As Hopkins begins to close, he introduces a paradox regarding God as never changing

among his ever-changing creation. Line 8 explains the fickle, changing, diverse nature of

creation. Then He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change explains that this fickleness,
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chaos, and change among creation is held fast by a never-changing God who is steadfast now,

has been since before time, and will be for eternity (line 10). Hopkins then calls the reader to

Praise Him, the creator, as a conclusion to his prayer (line 11). The beauty of language is

exposed through Hopkinss expression of literary devices in this poem and the way he laces them

together to create a complete picture.

In response to this poem, a question is still posed: Is there truly beauty in imperfection?

As Christians, there should be no doubt to this question whatsoever. For my best friend, Jeremy,

this question was interpreted slightly differently. Being diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy and

confined to a wheelchair at an early age, Jeremy, learned what real life, physical imperfection

was like. His handicap was the dapple part of his life that he proved to others would not hold

him back which was beauty in itself. Not for a second did this impairment bring him to

discouragement. One of Jeremys lasting legacies was the unchanging smile he put on everyday.

This was the light of Jesus Christ, who Jeremy had accepted, and showed to everyone he came in

contact with. His health was always changing, just as the chaos in nature does, but Jeremy held

close to the steadfast God who created nature and created him.

My friends life parallels this poem because he was a little different than most of the kids

of our grade school class. His iron chariot, however, was the detail that most considered an

imperfection, but Jeremy considered a tool. This tool allowed him to grab peoples attention and

show that whether his day was good or bad, or he was sick or healthy, or tired or strong; the God

that he served was unchanging and consistent.

In conclusion, Pied Beauty works to provide the reader with different views of various

aspects of nature that are unique and often over-looked. Within these different aspects of nature,

Hopkins sheds light on their differences, explaining their beauty because of them. God shows his
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power through the intricacies and details as well as the vast differentiation of nature. Hopkins

appreciates these details and even expresses his own wonder within the poem. The literary

devices displayed by Hopkins provide unique insight to the different levels of variation and

complexity in nature from the sky, to the landscape, to the rose-moles all in stipple upon trout

that swim (line 3).

Too often, the details of life can be looked past or not appreciated. It takes an acute sense

of observation to determine the oddities of nature and find the beauty within them. Hopkins

brilliantly attributes these differentiations in nature that are ever changing to a God who is never

changing. There can be no shortage of praise for that fact, which Hopkins reminds the reader as

he concludes. Perhaps the question now moves from Is there truly beauty in imperfection? to

Where is true beauty in imperfection? This fallen world is filled with abnormalities and

oddities, so to praise the beauties within them, as Hopkins does, are truly a skill worth

developing.