Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

In Hopkins’s poetry it is virtually impossible to separate device and form from meaning since he is constantly at work molding lines, words, and sounds to create an intricate pattern, making one feel that the poem one is reading is nearly a synesthetic version of the aspect of creation or theology on which he is commenting. Thus this analysis of theme may seem somewhat repetitive of comment on forms and devices. In effect, that is part of the point of the poem.

“Pied Beauty” is essentially a list reminding us again and again, in a variety of ways, that the visible universe and human creation is varied and beautiful even in its ugliness and contrast, and all is a hymn of praise to God the Creator. In this list, Hopkins isolates details that reveal his perceptiveness as a poet and that invite the reader to see the world and word anew and more carefully. Thus the strategy of the poem’s first part is that of enumerating unique details conveyed in unusual words, such as “stipple” or “brinded.” Each detail is like the brush stroke of a great painter, and for Hopkins, God is the careful painter mixing and matching, putting all into a whole. Though individual details are striking, unusual, unique, or even initially ugly, the overall effect is one of massive pattern, reiterated by the echo of the word “all” at the end of one stanza and beginning of the next.

God’s Creation is beautiful because the seeming variety and contrast...

(The entire section is 515 words.)


(Poetry for Students)

Nature’s Variety and God’s Unity

“Pied Beauty” is a hymn of praise to the variety of God’s creation,...

(The entire section is 791 words.)