Pied Beauty

One of my favourite poems of all time, Pied Beauty, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, is a languid, lustful ode to all things freckled. I am also a lover of freckles, although I have little choice in the matter, with a fine collection of lifelong cheek dapples, myself. There is little point in fighting the facts, or the freckles, as it were, especially when they are on your face. Even more pertinent, though, is the fact that, as Hopkins so eloquently puts it, freckles are in a league of

‘All things counter, original, spare, strange’.

They are a delightful imperfection – a network of dapples that set you and others that are freckled apart from the rest. The poem makes me think of that time of the day, just before dusk, when you are driving and suddenly the light in the car changes and everything becomes saturated; all colours intensify and the landscape slides into a glow of green and yellow, the sky grey grey grey. And just as suddenly it is gone.

Freckles are similar; a childhood remnant on the bridge of a nose, or a concentrated firebreak of freckles on a redhead’s cheek. Fleeting, all-over-the-show, difficult to pin down.

Love your freckles, lest they fade. Wear them for the mark of difference that they are.

The poem:

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;

We fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;

Praise him.


One response to “Pied Beauty

  1. You beauty! Freckles on pretty shoulders in the summer time, or the napes of handsome backs. ‘Sun kisses’, my mum calls them.

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