31 August 2010

Perfect Imperfection

On his good days, when Gerard Manley Hopkins was not so weighed down with the deep grief that comes from the heavy work of living on this planet, the poet-priest could render with incredible clarity the fundamental beauty of a world infused with divine perfection. I have yet to meet a person who does not enjoy his poem"Pied Beauty"; even readers who are not spiritually inclined appreciate the imagery and musicality, and more especially the way the poem's details teach us how to love the world and embrace its contradictions.

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 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.
Image from Mr. Cordova's Trout Blog

Contrast, opposition and change create beauty and prompt the poet to honor the eternal paradox: contrast, opposition and change are constant and therefore divine -- stippled, fickle, beautiful, perfect, all.