In "Pied Beauty," what is an example of onomatopoeia?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Very much aware that his poetry made unusual demands upon his readers, Gerald Manley Hopkins offered this advice,

...take breath and read it with the ears, as I always wish to be read, and my verse becomes all right.

"Pied Beauty" is certainly a poem that must be "read with the ears" as there is onomatopoeia in it; that is, there are words that imitate the sound that they denote. Not only do these words imitate sounds, they also create musical effects and reinforce meaning. For instance, in the first line, 

Glory be to God for dappled things,

there is alliteration which speeds the line, and then the word dappled which adds a staccato to the line musically, and which created the spotting with its sound.  Another example of onomatopoeia is in the third line as Hopkins writes of the "rose-moles" being "all in a stipple" upon the trout.  The word stipple is onomatopoeic as it sounds to the ear as if one quickly places the point of a brush upon the side of the trout, making the rose dots. In addition, Hopkins believed that meaning came not solely from the thoughts one expressed, but also from "the strain of address" which is contained in such techniques as onomatopoeia 


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