Thursday, June 17, 2010

Okapi Stripes and Hopkins' Poem

Above The stripes of an okapi from E. Ray Lankester, Monograph of the Okapi (London: British Museum, 1910). Illustrations by Carl Hentschel. The okapi, native to the Ituri Rainforest of the Congo, are giraffe-related mammals with remarkable striped patterns on their forelegs, back legs, and hindquarters, not unlike the stripes of a zebra. It brings to mind the patterns both employed and praised within Gerard Manley Hopkins' masterful poem, "Pied Beauty"—

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-color 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.