Dr. Brenda Ayres
22 April 2013
“An Odd Poem About Oddities”
A study of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ "Pied Beauty"
Many early works about nature take their appreciation for our Father's artistic flair to an unwanted extreme. If individuals forget that nothing we enjoy would exist if the Creator did not have the urge to bring it about they displease Him for He is a jealous God. Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the few authors that was able to sit back and adore nature without losing sight of the Lord and we can see that in his sonnet "Pied Beauty." Through themes expressing a unique beauty in the oddities of nature, Hopkins demonstrated the correct way to show adoration for God's works while keeping in mind that God is separate from His creations. It is quite interesting that Hopkins’ poem talks about oddities while it in itself, is an oddity. A normal sonnet consists of an eight line octave and then a six line sestet. Hopkins ignored this guideline and shortened the former grouping to six lines and the latter was cut down to four and a half. Despite this modified form, the work is still considered a sonnet. Upon reading this work out loud one can also pick up on a sense of musicality. The author pairs repeated similar sounds like “fickle, freckle; dappled, adazzle” (2163) with alliteration such as “swift, slow, sweet, sour; fold, fallow” (2162) to bring about a steady rhythm. On the English Language and Literature website this style used by Hopkins is noted as worlds apart from the other authors of the Victorian era (Mayer). Looking past the form and starting to delve into context we find other unique structural techniques in the poem. An obvious techniqye is that the second stanza is the exact inverse of the first stanza. The octave (or what is supposed to be an octave) begins with a line talking about God, “Glory be to God for dappled things” (2162) and then continues on to use descriptions. Shortly after, the...