Thirty years after Gerard Manley Hopkins died, his beautiful poem “Pied Beauty” was published. Hopkins was a Jesuit priest who wrote only with the intent of praising God. Most of his poetry is a "hymn to creation."
The word pied is defined as markings of two or more colors. Words associated with pied indicate the pied variety of words: brindle, checkered, flecked, motley, piebald, freckled, and speckled.
Type of poem, form, and structure
This is a lyric poem which praises a particular beauty created by God. The form of the poem is called a curtal sonnet, meaning a shortened or contracted sonnet. The poem consists of eleven lines instead of the usual fourteen lines. The rhyme scheme of the poem is as follows: ABCABCDBDCC. The poem was written as a hymn that is sung in nature instead of church,
Hopkins is the speaker. As a religious man, he turns his attention to the specific qualities of nature. He wants the reader to see things as they really are and to praise them because they are God’s creation.
Nature is pied. From the flora, fish, birds, man—all are varied, streaked, freckled. But the most important aspect is that everything is a gift from God. Look at man. The differences in men are profound as well: personalities, colors, cultures, physical attributes.
Nature in its variety--including streaked, spotted, and multicolored skies, fields, nuts, fish, birds, and other animals--is a gift from God for which the reader should be thankful. One may interpret this theme to include human beings, with their many personalities, moods, languages, skin colors and other physical attributes.
Using the sounds of particular initial consonant sounds, the poem becomes more musical and flowing.
“f” sound-Fresh-firecoal fall; finches’; fold, fallow
“s” sound-swift; slow; sweet; sour;
The spots on a speckled trout are compared to rose-moles
The comparison between chestnut kernels to burning embers
The poet calls on the reader to praise God for his gifts of spotted, variegated, and multicolored aspects of nature. Blue skies, for example, may display streaks of white or gray or the colors of the sunset or sunrise. Using a simile, the poet states that skies are like cows that may be brown with streaks or patches of another color.
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches’ wings…
The poet admires---
- The trout that are called rainbow and are speckled
- The chestnuts that have fallen from the tree…Their kernels with bright color similar to the glow burning embers.
- Look under the finches wings with the many spots.
There are so many types of landscapes. The farmland that has never been plowed; the land that is plowed and planted; and the land that is green and or brown. Examine the variety of equipment that workmen use: tools, gear, and accoutrements.
Oddities pervade the world—unusual, eccentric, unique, or strange.
There are things that change color by seasons or freckle in the summer. ......
There are many opposities: quick and slow; sweet and sour; bright and dim.
But the deity that fathered all of these things does not change. He is the same forever.