This post is a repeat from last Thanksgiving, which evoked a healthy response from our readers. Why a repeat, you ask? Well, we have nearly twice the number of subscribers than we did then. Moreover, one friend told me that this poem became the blessing his family offered over their Thanksgiving meal. Besides, if Garrison Keillor could rerun favorite episodes of “Prairie Home Companion,” I can do the same.
To help prepare your mind, this verse is not a quick read-through and then on to the next item on your list. Set aside a place and time where it can sink in. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…
A Thanksgiving Memory
(November 25, 2015)
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 often 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 before 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 brinded(1) cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple(2) upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls(3); 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; a-dazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
(1)Streaked or spotted; (2)Rose-colored dots or flecks; (3)Fallen chestnuts as red as burning coals.
Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)
**Photographed by George Giberne, printed by Hills and Saunders. Photograph: National Portrait Gallery.
If interested, here’s a 45-second audio of Pied Beauty.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving season.
PS. Thanksgiving is here and Christmas is around the corner. If you think our story is worth sharing, you may want to give my book, A Path Revealed, to family and friends who would find value in it. Or maybe your book club would like to read and discuss it. You can purchase the book several ways: 1) At your local bookstore or at a Barnes & Noble, which can order it if it’s not on the shelf. 2) On Amazon. 3) Via my publisher Paraclete Press, which offers discounts for multiple copies. Contact Sr. Estelle Cole by phone: 774-801-2030 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PPS. Congratulations to Carolyn O. for winning the book drawing from the last post. She’s receiving Frena Gray-Davidson’s “Alzheimer’s Disease Frequently Asked Questions.”
PPPS. Feel free to forward this post to your friends and family. If you’d like to sign up for my blog, it’s free. Just click here.