11 April 2013

Poetry Thursday - "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

"skies of couple-colour"
Glory be to God for dappled things - 
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced -
fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, 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.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) learnt Welsh while training to be a Catholic priest in a seminary near St Asaph. there he "started to read the traditional Welsh verse whose rhythms were to influence his own poetry. His most famous technical innovation was the idea of 'sprung rhythm' which counts stresses rather than syllables, propelling the reader forward."

His poems were unpublished in his lifetime, but were gathered together in 1918 by his friend from Oxford days, Robert Bridges, who was poet laureate from 1913 to 1930.

For all their imagery, Hopkins' poems fall more easily on the ear than on the eye. Hear this "hymn to the natural world" read in this short video.

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