In a recent episode, Slate Culture Gabfest host and Slate film critic Dana Stevens recommended the poem “Pied Beauty” by Gerald Manley Hopkins. The works of this Victorian-era poet was thrown at me in high school, but like your regular high school nitwit, I didn’t look closely enough into his work, or his ready-for-prestige-movie-casting life as a poet turned Jesuit priest (complete with burning all his work right before entering the religious life).
Perhaps most strikingly, I didn’t listen enough to his words. Manley Hopkins was known for his verse “sprung rhythm”. There’s all sorts of technical explanation on meters, foots, accents, etc on what that means. But the image itself of “sprung rhythm” gives me well… the picture.
Dana Stevens doesn’t just recommend Gerard Manley Hopkins’ works, she recommends you read his work out loud to feel the great joys of his thoughts rendered in rhythm. (As Stephen Fry recommends too. The blog post title is his edict for poetry.)
Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-colour as 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 and strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow, sweet, sour; adazzle, dim
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: