Like Walt Whitman, Hopkins makes a fascinating play of language — where his word picks stack and accrue into an incantational pressure. A genius gesture, because after a spell you aren’t quite sure what you’re reading and translating, but you don’t care. It just feels good.
And so you read his poem again (and again).
And then, in the end, the lid of your head comes off and all the grandeur and the beauty and the space and the mystery comes tumbling in.
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:
Painting: Monk by the Sea by David Friedrich