Commentary on Pied Beauty


Pied PiperThe ‘pied' of the title means multi-coloured, as in the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin'. The poem is a celebration of the variety of colour in nature, especially within discrete items of nature. Another term for this is ‘dappled', referring to the shapes of colour. Hopkins creates further vocabulary for the same concept of variety in the octave, listing all sorts of examples: cows, trout, chestnuts, finches, then finishing up with two major categories: landscape and trade.

In the sestet, he affirms that all this combination of colour and shape, of opposites in general- ‘swift, slow' or ‘sweet, sour' are all part of God's creative design. God fathers all such variety and therefore deserves the ultimate praise.

Investigating Pied Beauty
  • Work out in what ways the following are varied:
    • ‘finches' wings'
    • ‘Landscape'
    • ‘all trades'.
  • Have you ever thought of freckles as being fascinating?
    • Is our view of human beauty too much bound up with uniformity, do you think (e.g. the ‘clear' complexion)?
  • Can you think of other items Hopkins might have included in his list?
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