Friday, October 26, 2007

Pied Beauties

Magpies were originally called pies (no, not the round, edible kind), from Old French, because of the multi-color feathers; a pie-bald horse is one with two or more colors on its face, the pied piper wore a multi-color coat, etc. Mag was added because the birds chatter so much, and Mag was a generic name for women engaged in idle chatter. (Yup, very stereotypical, but I can't change the etymology.)

The etymology reminds me of one of my favorite poems:

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.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89). Poems. 1918. (Source)

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