by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Pied Beauty Theme of Religion
"Pied Beauty" is a celebration of natural creation bookended by traditional religious expressions of praise and glorification. We have trouble deciding whether the poem is meant to be a private and personal prayer (it was never published in Hopkins's lifetime), or if the speaker is addressing an imagined audience. The poem was written in 1877, the same year that Hopkins was ordained as a Jesuit priest by one of his heroes, the famous English writer and theologian John Henry Newman. "Pied Beauty" comes near the height of Hopkins's religious fervor.
Questions About Religion
- Does this poem strike you as particularly Christian (Hopkins was a Jesuit priest, which is a branch of Catholicism)? Could a non-Christian or a non-religious person appreciate the sentiments in the poem?
- Does the speaker make any kind of religious arguments, or does he assume that his audience shares his views?
- Have you ever heard a hymn before? Where? What other kinds of hymns do you know? Does "Pied Beauty" sound like any hymns you know?
- Why does the speaker "praise" or give glory to God? What does this action demonstrate about the person giving praise?
Chew on This
In "Pied Beauty," the sounds of words are supposed to convince the reader of the beauty of the things they represent.
When the speaker says, "Praise Him" in the final line, he is talking to himself.