In "Pied Beauty," what is Gerard Manley Hopkins praising?


Pied Beauty

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mwestwood's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

Employing variations of the mottoes of the Jesuit order to which he belonged--"to the greater glory of God" and "praise to God always"--Gerald Manley Hopkins appears in his abbreviated sonnet to revere the beautiful colors and variety in nature, and by praising the beauty of nature, he praises God, the Creator. However, Hopkins hymn of praise disguises in its controlling metaphor of "pied beauty" things that do not meet the uniformity, standarization, and efficiency lauded in his Victorian age, and thus takes on a tone of protest.

In the fifth line Hopkins moves from an appreciation of variety in nature to "all trades," implying the human and moral aspect.  The lines

And áll trádes, 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

suggest that diversity among humans is just as beautiful as it is in nature and is created alike by God, and should, therefore be respected and appreciated.  Interestingly, Hopkins applies some adjectives that were used about his poetry:  "original, spare, strange." These oddities, along with his turning of "fickle" and "freckled"  which normally suggest a negative judgment to a positive connotation, are used, instead, as evidence of the infinitude of God's creation.

quddoos's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

The first stanza describes specifics in nature that show a multiplicity of colours or aspects: birds, fish, cloudy skies, landscape, work. His sense of wonder at the huge variety of existence is prefaced with his personal certainty: "Glory be to God".
The second stanza speaks of generalities: "Whatever is fickle, freckled..." The poet concludes that there is one creator of all this multiplicity, the One who Himself is beyond change, because perfect. The final exhortation "Praise him" reflects the beginning of the poem. 
I'm not sure this answers your question, but at least you've got some thoughts here to chew over.

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