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Themes

In Hopkins's poetry, nature does not exist without man. He doesn't take the view that man exploits nature, but rather Hopkins's landscapes are filled with the tools and marks of humanity just as it is filled with trees in birds. On the other hand, his view of nature, at least in this poem, is limited to the things you might see in the English countryside. The poem is pastoral, meaning it shows natural beauty in an agricultural setting. Humans model their own activities after nature, and the diverse blend of colors and forms in the natural world serves as a metaphor for the diversity of man's trades and crafts.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Are there any images of nature that are not associated with agriculture or farming in some way?
  2. What kind of landscape does the poem make you imagine? What kinds of images pop into your head when you hear phrases like "Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls"?
  3. What is the opposite of "Pied Beauty"? Is there an opposite?
  4. What kind of role does humanity play in nature? Does the poem suggest that humans are destined to use nature, even if not in an exploitative way?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In "Pied Beauty," Hopkins doesn't really praise specific things so much as he praises the general structure of nature.

Although Hopkins clearly sees humans as a part of nature, he also believes they have the responsibility to guide and order nature, which places them in a superior position.

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