Pied Beauty: The Grouch Reflects

I’ve been wanting to share a little about our current Hopkins poem: why I love it, what it’s been meaning to me, what I hope you’re getting out of pouring it into those crinkly recesses of your brain.

But I have to admit, I’m tired and off schedule (it’s never easy for me to write when I’m not at home in normal life…and right now I’m visiting family), and feeling a bit sheepish because I’m the worst mom in the church nursery and received a second “sign up to volunteer or else!” email today (which made me feel like a such a jerk. Ugh. I hate that feeling of failing people and not being the person I want them to think I am. I’m afraid nursery lady hates me and now I’ll never prove to her that I’m not just the mom who doesn’t sign up for nursery duty.)

So, I’m calling on the depths here. I’m needing Gerard Manley to tell us why we love him and need his words on this fine Friday morning.

I chose “Pied Beauty” because it reminds me of Spring and I had sweet images of myself hopping along the street by the park in paisley capris, latte in one hand, stroller in the other, gazing musical-actress-like from flowering tree to tweeting bird, quoting Hopkins to my son with my mouth and worshiping God with my heart. Is that too much to ask?

Why do I sound so bitter today?

Maybe I should stop here…before I pull out my poetry handbook and start spouting off all the “I studied poetry in grad school” things about Hopkins’ style and form and rhythm and depth. I’ll stop before I go line by line into how this poem uses images and descriptions that are completely average in regular life but somehow rockets them into splendor, taking us completely by surprise. (It’s like how roasted chicken is perfect with just salt, pepper and lemons…it needs none of the fancy stuff.)

How many songs and poems and silly melodies some refer to as “worship music” start with “Glory be to God…”? And how many complete that thought with “for dappled things”? Ahhhh. I love that.

I love Hopkins because even right now in my sour disposition (did I mention that I have a chest cold?), I can’t help but get giddy of over giving glory to God over, yep, just some “dappled things.” You know. The usual.

Please, friends. If you’ve been memorizing this poem, tell us what the process has been like for you, what you think about it, if you’re giddy about it or feeling really sorry for your extra crinkly brain or your chest cold.

Happy Friday…



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3 responses to “Pied Beauty: The Grouch Reflects

  1. I am LOVING it. For exactly the reasons you said – the normal, averageness of the subject matter that GMH invites us to view as glorious. I love trying to see the world that way – as though every little thing is giving glory to God and we are invited to join in.

  2. CAQ

    Micha! I am here. And you can’t stop me.

    I have not memorized this poem, and I am not a mom (except to Henry Pussycat) but I love this poem, for so many reasons:

    I always thought that Bishop might have stolen her imagery of the Fish with its rose-wallpaper skin from this poem–or just had it living in her head alll along–

    right now I am remembering how you pronounce poem: po-em–

    I love GMH for his density, his piling on of things, stuff, as here–

    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;

    It’s also generous. And I love that the last line pulls me up short, every time–

    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.

    But I always encounter it as an opening up, not a shutting down.

    • Ms Queeny:

      I looooove having you here! Thank you for not being a mom or a monk and still reading my blog. And thank you for your thoughts about our man Gerard Manley

      I’m happy to think about Bishop stealing from Hopkins. I think, as I’ve been memorizing it, that the “rose moles all in stipple upon trout that swim” is my favorite line of all. It just sounds so good on my tongue. August likes it too because he likes fish.

      And, I’m teaching August to pronounce it “po-em” as well. I hope.

      On my way to GNO to tell you girls that I love you, as I ought to have done months ago. XOXO.

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