This week let us praise the piebald:
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;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Hopkins was a Jesuit priest in late Victorian England, which may indicate some of the emotional dislocations and discontents of his life. Here he writes a psalm of praise to what he sees as God's abundance: the perfection of the unchanging reflected not just as it usually is, in variety and in abundance, but in things that might seem imperfect or flawed: the weird, the crooked, streaked, and mottled. Hopkins darts back and forth between the large and small (skies, fish, birds, landscapes), giving them all the ultimate praise of exact and accurate observation (the reason the rose-moles are upon "trout that swim" rather than simply "trout" is that trout lose these rose-colored marks when they die, at least according to the footnote in the edition I used, the Oxford World's Classics Selected Poetry, edited by Catherine Phillips).
For a long time I would look into Hopkins occasionally and I didn't quite "get" his way of doing things. Then I read somewhere that he was very influenced by Anglo-Saxon poetry and suddenly it all fell into place: the heavy reliance on alliteration, the compound words (couple-colour, fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, fathers-forth), the oddly marked accentuation (I have omitted his accent marks, due to technological limitations). Sometimes one little remark will be the key that opens a new world to us.