You are still reading out loud, aren’t you? Good.

Liam arrives home from school. Fall 2012. Trumbull, Connecticut

Liam arrives home from school. Fall 2012. Trumbull, Connecticut

How often do you agree to take on recommendations? Sometimes you seek them, I constantly give them (sometimes unsolicited… Sometimes?) and there are times you just listen patiently, then… yeah. Maybe.

The Slate Culture Gabfest podcast ends each episode with a recommendation from each of the hosts. They could be a silly YouTube compilation of goats bleating to hilarious effect, or a rather weighty yet entertaining philosophical conversation series in The New York Times.

Mostly, I just enjoy hearing them share what brought them something good for the week. It’s a real pleasure to hear people share what they love.

In a recent episode, the Gabfest host and Slate film critic Dana Stevens recommended the poem “Pied Beauty” by Gerald Manley Hopkins. The works of this Victorian-era poet was thrown at me in high school, but like your regular high school nitwit, I didn’t look closely enough into his work, or his ready-for-prestige-movie-casting life as a poet turned Jesuit priest (complete with burning all his work right before entering the religious life).

Perhaps most strikingly, I didn’t listen enough to his words. Manley Hopkins was known for his verse “sprung rhythm”. There’s all sorts of technical explanation on meters, foots, accents, etc on what that means. But the image itself of “sprung rhythm” gives me well… the picture.

Dana Stevens doesn’t just recommend Gerard Manley Hopkins’ works, she recommends you read his work out loud to feel the great joys of his thoughts rendered in rhythm. (As Stephen Fry recommends too. The blog post title is his edict for poetry.)

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-colour as 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 and 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.


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