Pied Beauty versus Homogeny

My other half and I have been cutting back on meat consumption, for moral and health reasons. We often use meat substitutes like tofu or seitan.

Hubby announced he was going to have a go at making seitan (wheat based product) himself. When I asked why, he told me that a 700 ml jar of seitan (including water weight) costs seven euros! How come meat, which comes from a living animal is so cheap, while a product that is better for our health and the environment is so expensive?

This issue reminded me of a poem I wrote some years ago while following a distance- learning poetry course at the Open College of the Arts.  I took Victorian poet, Gerald Manley Hopkins’ poem, Pied Beauty, as a template and wrote my version of it anno 2002 when Dolly the first sheep was cloned. The poems contrast people’s attitude to the natural world and spirituality in Hopkins’ day with our modern, economically-driven preference for homogeny.

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 all trades, 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.


Glory be to scientists for cloned beings-
For skies of two tones as a patented cow;
for chip-inserting all trout that swim;
Genetically altered grain; clipped wings;
Landscape managed and stitched – bent, barren, and fallow;
And all farm hands made redundant, grim.

All things bland, economical, matched, tame;
Whatever is exploitable (they know how)
With fast, fast; cheap, cheap; all made dim;
They father-forth their beauty, their change:

Praise them.

For some technical reason I can’t post Hopkins’ poem in its original, wonderful layout. If you would like to see the original layout, click here.


About susancarey

Angela writes using pseudonym, Susan Carey. She has dual nationality, GB/NL and lives in Nijmegen. Susan has had short fiction published on multiple platforms and was a runner-up in the 2018 and 2017 Casket of Fictional Delights Flash Competitions. Her writing has also been published and performed by amongst others: Mslexia, Liars’ League, Reflex Fiction, the Casket and of course the wonderful Writers Abroad. In 2020 she published her short story collection, Healer. Tweets at @su_carey
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