c. 1880 | England

Who Knows Why?

Gerard Manley Hopkins sees god in the details.

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  
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow,
    and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past
    change: Praise him.


Gerard Manley Hopkins

“Pied Beauty.” John Henry Newman received Hopkins into the Roman Catholic Church in 1866, after the young man had read the Cardinal’s account of his own conversion. Entering into the Jesuit novitiate two years later, Hopkins burned his youthful verse. His poetic silence lasted seven years, until, prompted by the drowning of five Franciscan nuns, he composed “The Wreck of the Deutschland.”