Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins
3 March 2002


I am not at all ambivalent about this poem. I hate it. It seems to have been constructed out of words that have similar consonant-sounds but nothing else to recommend them, and as a result it doesn't mean anything. Well, all right, it means that non-uniformly-coloured things are beautiful; at least, that seems to be the message hidden among the explosive, spluttering consonants. But what is uniformly coloured? Very little, when you think of it. Even man-made things tend to have more than one colour. The poem has no point, no meaning, and doesn't tell me anything I didn't already know or make me think about anything in a new way.

Priests ought not to write poetry if they can't keep religion out of it. If they have creative urge, they should express it through sermons or write wonderfully poetic prayers. Said prayers should then be used solely for prayerful purposes, and not be intended for public consumption.


back to litblog