Baby hummingbirds just before they fledged from their nest outside my friend Samara Louton’s Seattle kitchen window.

A couple of months ago our bookclub decided that we’d each memorize a poem. I chose Pied Beauty by Gerald Manley Hopkins. I taped it to the bathroom mirror so I can work on a line or two as I brush my teeth, (while standing on one foot, I might add: trying to improve balance and memory along with good dental care).

 Pied Beauty
 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 áll trádes, 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:
                                Praise him.

                                  – by Gerald Manley Hopkins

 This splendid poem is called to mind everywhere I look this spring: in the dotted pink petal-fall on the patio around the cherry tree, the checkered frittilarias nodding in woodland shade, striped tulips, and notched and patterned butterfly wings. And, not least of all, in the sweet spots on our springer spaniel.


Never miss an opportunity to include a photo of Izabella.

Once you start looking for it, you catch the quirky rhythms of pattern everywhere: yesterday in the decorations on Margaret Chodos-Irvine’s front door, today in the tiny deep blue pearls that circle the centers of the anemones we are arranging as we figure out table decorations for my daughter’s wedding.


I love the images that this poem puts so succinctly before me. And the awareness of dappled-ness that it awakens. As I come to own each line, patting it into my memory to the buzz of the toothbrush, I have come to appreciate the texture of the words and the pattern of the lines. It is, in itself, a lovely pied creation.


More patterns, along the driveway at the Captain Whidbey Inn.

10 responses to “IT’S SPRING!

  1. Delightful post! Thank you for these glimpses of color-dappled spring! (Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of my favorite poets.)

  2. Laura, great to see the baby hummingbirds. Wish my hungry ones would have a nest close enough to see. And my Izzi! Oh, so beautiful and delighted you included her in your spring blog.
    Chris Alver

  3. I love this poem! Thanks for the lovely hummingbirds!

  4. I love memorising poems and this is a beauty – not one I know, and perfect for this time of year as you say. Great idea to tape it to the bathroom mirror! Stunning photos too, especially the baby birds and your springer:-)

  5. Lovely poem for spring and for springing the tongue – he is playing with those words as he presents beauty in all its variations. I admire your memorizing it!

  6. Sarah Lamstein

    Brava, Laura! And nice to hear that soon we’ll both be celebrating a daughter’s wedding.

  7. I love Pied Beauty–and I love patterns. The photo of the fence and the rocks is splendid!

  8. Awesome Article and Pics…

  9. Leave it to Laura to notice the dappled beauty everywhere! My favorite is lying on my back looking up at the sunlight filtering through the maples leaves, dancing spots of light; or lying in bed and watching the sunlight flickering thought the lace curtains,playing magic on the blush wall. When will you watch the light sparkle through your daughter’s wedding veil?

  10. I just commented to my daughters on our Sunday walk that I love the dappled sunshine and shade made by new spring leaves. Thank you for a beautiful post.

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