Skip to content

Giving thanks

November 24, 2011

The best Thanksgiving poem, it seems obvious, is Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty.”

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 áll trádes, 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.

This is the most impressive 10.5 line poem I know of. It’s also one of the only 10.5 line poems I know of, and the others are for the most part also by Hopkins.

I don’t claim any originality in reading this poem (I’ve read a lot of criticism on it for class and my ideas on it mostly come from what I’ve read), but some things to look for:

  • The “octave” brings in the entire universe, including the four elements and Aristotle’s ladder of being (from dirt to animals to man)
  • The “sestet” subtly introduces the idea of sin and the question of whether differentiation is necessarily ethical differentiation
  • The last few lines show us a God who is “past change,” a description that has something to do, though I’m not sure what, with the idea of God as complete actuality
Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: