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Giving Thanks for Dappled Things

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) is one of my favorite poets because of the sheer beauty of his language, including words he invented. Some of his poems celebrate and give thanks for the beauty of the world — and they open my eyes to it, even when I do not understand his every word!

Hopkins was an Oxford-educated Jesuit priest, so of course he expresses gratitude in the language of his tradition. But when you read the body of his work, it’s clear that his spirituality has a universal reach, rooted in respect for the sacredness of all life in all its diversity.

At a time when some are so threatened by diversity that they become fearful, hateful, and violent, what could be more important than giving thanks for “dappled things” — human as well as natural — and for the harmony and joy we feel when we learn to do the “dance of differences”?

P.S. Some poems are best experienced when you read them aloud. Try it with this one. And don’t worry when your tongue trips over its exquisite intricacies!

Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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 …

(Excerpted from Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose. Read the full poem here.)

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