Tuesday trees: pied beauty
How beautiful are beech woods in any season! One grey, damp morning last week, with shreds of mist lying low over the river at the foot of the hills, I stopped at a couple of beech trees to admire their stippled bark and splotches of bright last leaves. They reminded me of both a painter and a poet.
The painter is Edward Atkinson Hornel, one of the ‘Glasgow Boys’, in whose paintings your eye is sometimes confused by the play of dappled light across faces and tree-trunks, so that you are not quite sure how many little girls are peeping at you from the branches.
The poet brought to mind by the beech trees is Gerard Manley Hopkins. A convert to Catholicism, his evident delight in the natural world was inextricable from his faith. Joy in the infinite variety of creation poured out of him as praise, as naturally as breathing. I sympathise with his outlook.
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: