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Compare and contrast the theme of beauty of man and nature in "Pied Beauty" by Gerard...

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jessicamartin... | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted May 21, 2012 at 5:19 PM via web

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Compare and contrast the theme of beauty of man and nature in "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins and sonnet "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" by William Wordsworth.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 23, 2012 at 3:40 AM (Answer #1)

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William Wordsworth was a first-generation Romantic poet. Romantic poetry generally included one or several of approximately seven characteristics—a respect for nature is one of these characteristics. Gerald Manley Hopkins' lovely poem "Pied Beauty" reflects the same theme of the beauty in nature as is found in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge."

The first example of Wordsworth's praise of nature is found in lines such as:

A sight so touching in its majesty...

In the poet's sight are elements of nature, including...

The beauty of the morning

The city—made by man—the author states—on this morning—is opened up to nature—which is untouched by mankind:

 ...Open unto the fields, and to the sky...

...glittering in the smokeless air...

...Never did sun more beautifully steep...

....valley, rock, or hill...

...The river glideth at his own sweet will...

Compare, then, the images presented in "Pied Beauty." 

Glory be to God for dappled things—


"Dappled" means:

having spots of a different shade, tone, or color from the background; mottled

The next line continues...

...For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow

The images here described more things of several colors, such as "couple-colour." "Brinded" means "brindled," defined as...

gray or tawny with darker streaks or spots

The poet continues presenting "pictures" of things in nature that have several colors, including "trout," "chestnut-falls" and "finches' wings." He also mentions "landscape plotted and pieced." 

For both poems, the sense of being drawn or pulled in by images of nature are found in Hopkins' title, "Pied Beauty" and Wordsworth's lines...

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

A sight so touching in its majesty...

These lines infer that one would have a cold heart or "soul" not to be touched by the scene the poet describes. Use of the word "pied" is defined as...

having patches of two or more colors

However, the association can also be tied to the Pied Piper of Hamelin. In this story, the Pied Piper was a piper...

...dressed in pied (multicolored) clothing, leading the children away from the town...

The children (as the story goes) were drawn to follow the piper—the inference is that they were entranced—drawn by some kind of magic. So whereas "pied" can mean multi-colored, it also alludes to a sense of enchantment, and with regard to nature, this beauty is irresistible.

What is different between these poems is that Wordsworth concentrates on elements in nature that are similar in their beauty: he lists them (e.g., "valley, rock, or hill"). In Hopkins' poem, he focuses on things that are beautiful in their dissimilarity. In other words, it is the contrasting nature of the beauty in nature that he sees that "enchants" him.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;


Whatever is fickle, freckléd (who knows how?)


 

Sources:

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