He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.—Gerard Manley Hopkins.
As I sit outside of our home in Tryon, North Carolina, and take in the magnificent autumn vista, I have sought, with humbling inadequacy, to capture the incomparable splendor of the Lord’s handiwork with my camera (this is one reason that I prefer impressionistic painting to photography—it does seem to help one convey the sublimity of a scene with greater intensity). So, I borrow a verse from one of my favorite poets, (The Reverend) Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889). Hopkins’ prayerful appreciation of God’s infinitely incomparable creativity is a companion and an able helper to share what is less of a picture and more of an experience. The Reverend Gerard Hopkins’ creative reflection, and creaturely appreciation, of the divine grandeur of God‘s glory in creation seemed to me to be a candidate for a suitable couplet. The idea is to marry the verse of Hopkins with the visual art of another creative seer. I selected a painting by Alfred Sisley (1839-1899). Sisley may be the purest nineteenth century English artist using méthode impressionniste en plein air.
The painting is distant yet close, transcendent and imminent. The poem is as soft and elegant as a Dublin accent.
I hope that you enjoy the art and the poetry.
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:
“Pied Beauty” written 1877.