(Poem #134) 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 swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim. He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change; Praise him.
A passionate Christianity made a poet out of Gerard Manley Hopkins; without its influence, it is doubtful that he would have been moved to such eloquence or such depth of feeling; yet with it to spark his genius into flame, he crafted a number of brilliantly original, startlingly beautiful poems. His belief in an omnipotent Creator enabled him to see an especial beauty in the world of Nature - the unpredictable, untamed patterns of the wilderness combining to form a whole far greater than the sum of its parts, glorious and 'true'. But what sets his verse apart from the hordes (I use the word advisedly :-)) of Victorian nature poets was his ability to merge form and content to such a degree of utter perfection - his poetry _sounds_ right; his word-paintings leap off the printed page without traversing the intervening bridge of ordinary 'meaning'. Consider the structure of today's poem - there's a riot of assonance and alliteration, but it's combined with a an unusually high consonant-density; there's a strong underlying rhythm in the pattern of the stresses, but it's never plodding or weighty (indeed, the variations in the unstressed syllables ensure that the verse is kept flexible and 'clean'); the rhymes, though strictly enforced, are kept from becoming monotonous by an unusual (abcabcdbcdc) rhyme scheme... All these combine to create a wonderfully sonorous soundscape, the rising and falling cadences like water in a mountain stream, trickling over rocks and through rapids, in swirls and eddies and falls, neither smooth nor unbroken, yet flowing, flowing like 'skies of couple-colour'. And the overall effect is to sound what 'dappled' is to light. Perfect. thomas. For a brief bio, read the commentary at poem #35 'Sprung Rhythm' is Gerard Manley Hopkins' term for a complex and very technically involved system of metrics which he derived partly from his knowledge of Welsh poetry. It is opposed specifically to "running" or "common" rhythm, and provides for feet of lengths varying from one syllable to four, with either "rising" or "falling" rhythm. -- from the Victorian Web, [broken link] http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/victorian/victov.html