An Englishman who converted to Catholicism and became a Jesuit priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins begins and ends his poem with lines similar to the opening and closing lines of the Jesuit order: "To the greater glory of God," and "Praise to God always." With this prayerful arrangement of his unique sonnet, the poet praises oddity and uniqueness because all that is created has been made by God and is, therefore, worthy of this exaltation.
In the first stanza, Hopkins mentions the "pied beauty" and "dappled things" of nature as well as the fields altered by the farmer along the various trades of man, thus including man in these myriad forms of beauty. The lines
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
point to those variegated properties which are derogated in Manley's Victorian Age as freckles were considered physical flaws, and fickleness certainly a character flaw. However, with inward fervor Hopkins praises "fickle" and "freckled"; he appreciates their uniqueness and rarity, qualities that make them all the more worthy. For, after all, God created these qualities and, while current tastes have them in disfavor, tastes will later change:
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Hopkins praises all that is different in nature and life because the creator of all that is pied or dappled or variegated or fickle or freckled is, in the final analysis, God "whose beauty is past change" and superior to all other standards.