A Thanksgiving Memory

I tried to recall a short, meaningful Thanksgiving poem for this week. But none came to mind that hadn’t by now morphed into a cliché. 

Then I remembered a poem I reflected on a lot during my early 40’s—Pied Beauty. I read it scores of times, aloud and slowly. But I hadn’t picked it up since then, and I didn’t think of this as a “Thanksgiving” poem … until now.    

I was drawn to Pied Beauty (still am) because it celebrates the beauty of that which is less than “perfect.” It reflects the beauty of that which lasts, unlike all the shiny toys dancing in our eyes. 

So with a reverse twist I, at 70, thank Carlen at 40 for reminding me of this verse of praise by Gerard Manley Hopkins.  

Published in 1877, this short verse is crafted for us to drink deeply as we whisper its words aloud. We don’t have to be a poet, or even a lover of poetry, to let these images of grace dance through the imperfections of our own lives. 

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded¹ cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple² upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls³; 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;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.


If interested, here’s a 45-second audio of Pied Beauty

Have a good Thanksgiving season.


¹Streaked or spotted.
²Rose-colored dots or flecks. 
³Fallen chestnuts as red as burning coals.

Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)