Pied Beauty

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We were talking of albinism in animals, Darleen and I (I forget why), and I told her I had seen two albino deer in my life, one right here in these mountains (which would make it a California mule deer), and one in Vermont (obviously a whitetail).

And then I remembered the single most bizarre deer I have ever seen: a piebald, several years ago, up in the foothills of the Gold Country a little south of Sacramento (which means it is most probably a California mule deer, though it could also be a Columbian black-tail, or a hybrid of those two). I was lucky enough to catch some quick snaps of it which I include for your pleasure.


And, speaking of piebald, I also include for your pleasure, the following by Gerard Manley Hopkins, the great Victorian poet, Roman Catholic convert, Jesuit priest, and proponent of (and creator of, though he himself denied that) what he called “sprung rhythm.”

(For those interested in such things, the example Hopkins himself gave of sprung rhythm is the old nursery rhyme:

Ding, Dong Bell,

Pussy’s in the well.)


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 àll tràdes, 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.



I would have thought that final word should have been capitalized, but I have no intention of arguing with Hopkins. He was also a great believer in poetry always being read aloud, something I just took for granted, but apparently many people don’t do that. If you’re new to Hopkins, read this aloud and hear how it springs to life.

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