Pied Beauty

Topics: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Sonnet, Pied Beauty Pages: 12 (3117 words) Published: January 6, 2013
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 trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spáre, strange;
Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)
With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change:
Práise hím.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918

The Poetry Foundation
"Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the three or four greatest poets of the Victorian era. He is regarded by different readers as the greatest Victorian poet of religion, of nature, or of melancholy. However, because his style was so radically different from that of his contemporaries, his best poems were not accepted for publication during his lifetime, and his achievement was not fully recognized until after World War I."


Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. (28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889) was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert, and Jesuit priest, whose posthumous fame established him among the leading Victorian poets. His experimental explorations in prosody (especially sprung rhythm) and his use of imagery established him as a daring innovator in a period of largely traditional verse.

About The Poem

"Pied Beauty" is a curtal sonnet by the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889). It was written in 1877, but not published until 1918, when it was included as part of the collection Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins.


In the poem, the narrator praises God for the variety of "dappled things" in nature, such as cattle, trout and finches. He also describes how falling chestnuts resemble coals bursting in a fire, because of the way in which the chestnuts' reddish-brown meat is exposed when the shells break against the ground. The narrator then moves to an image of the landscape which has been "plotted and pieced" into fields (like quilt squares) by agriculture. At the end of the poem, the narrator emphasizes that God's beauty is "past change", and advises readers to "Praise him".

This ending is gently ironic and beautifully surprising: the entire poem has been about variety, and then God's attribute of immutability is praised in contrast. By juxtaposing God's changelessness with the vicissitude of His creation, His separation from creation is emphasized, as is His vast creativity.

This turn or volta also serves to highlight the poet's skill at uniting apparent opposites by means of form and content: the meter is Hopkins's own sprung rhythm, and the packing-in of various alliterative syllables serves as an aural example of the visual variety Hopkins describes.



The British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins is often described as an early modern poet ahead of his Victorian time. This is perhaps why, while he wrote “Pied Beauty” in 1877, in common with most of his other poetry, it was first published twenty-nine years after his death. It appeared in the first collected edition of his poems, Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, edited by Robert Bridges (1918). The poem subsequently appeared in the second complete edition of Hopkins’s poetry, published in 1930. As of 2006, “Pied Beauty” was available in Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works, edited by Catherine Phillips (1986).

“Pied Beauty” is one of the first poems that Hopkins wrote in the so-called sprung rhythm that he evolved, based on the rhythms of Anglo-Saxon and ancient Welsh poetry. His aim was to approximate the rhythms and style of normal speech, albeit speech infused with a religious ecstasy and enthusiasm that are characteristics of his poetry.

The poem also embodies Hopkins’s innovative use of condensed...
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