The Patterns of Spring

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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.

This splendid poem is called to mind everywhere I look this spring: in the pink petal-pocks 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.

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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.

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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 pied creation.

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

– Laura Kvasnosky

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Patterns of Spring

  1. I used to have a “repertoire” of memorized poems. Said repertoire has gotten smaller and smaller as I’ve become more lax in practicing them. You’ve helped me remember, Laura, the pleasure of saying them over, like pawing jewels. I’m determined to add to my collection, starting now 🙂

  2. Martine Leavitt

    What a beautiful post, Laura – from a beautiful soul. I love that you chose this poem to memorize. And I love thinking of you planning table decorations for your daughter’s memory.

  3. Terry Pierce (@terrycpierce)

    Just lovely, Laura! The words, the images, the reminder of what’s right in front of us. Thank you!

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