I am reading a book “Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me” by Karen Swallow Prior. It’s not really a book I would have chosen to read, but I am a member of an online book club and it is someone else’s choice – but I am enjoying it. There’s not much Karen and I have in common apart from a love of reading. She has been reading a lot longer than I have and I‘ve not yet come to the chapter on Mills and Boon’s romances where I really cut my reading teeth! The quality of her books is way above mine. I have read a few classics but not that many.
A chapter a week, we are up to chapter 3 – “God of the Awkward, the Freckled and the Strange: Gerard Manley Hopkins’s "Pied Beauty". It’s about the people that don’t fit in – dogs too. There’s a pattern, a formula or a mould that the world uses to decide who fits in and who doesn’t. It’s not God’s formula – but we grow up in a world where people don’t necessarily listen to God but they do pay attention to the world.
I have spent a lot of time and energy, effort and money trying to fit in. I don’t fit the formula. I remember once, in university, a male friend commenting on my group of friends. None of them apparently fitted the formula – one was too thin, two were not thin enough and another too old. I, at the time, had all the right proportions but I was too short.
If I am on a diet right now, and I am, it’s not a fitting-in diet but a must-bring-my-sugar-levels-down diet. Just recently I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I’m informed that I can backtrack a little with a low carb diet. I spent the morning trailing around the health shops looking for almond flour to bake low carb bread. Perhaps part of the weight loss contributed to the slim Mel shadow! I battle daily with my sweet tooth – and the tooth wins all too often.
The poem "Pied Beauty" picks up on the fickle and the freckled, the swift and the slow, the sweet and the sour, the dazzling and the dim – the things that are on the wrong side the formula fence. There’s a lot of alliteration throughout the poem that I like.
“Glory be to God” he begins, then lists all the oddities about nature and people. He ends with “Praise Him”. He says it’s all beautiful. The world might not say so but the world isn’t always right about these things.
I was reminded of a poem I wrote a few years ago.
Beauty has been plucked
from the eye of the beholder
and lies in mathematical formulae
The face carefully measured
Length and width
One divided by the other
The Golden ratio
The face in three acts
Hairline to eyes
Eyes to nose
Nose to chin
A trinity of equal numbers
Nature’s symmetry presented
Length of ear and length of nose
Width of eye and distance between
Luck would have it
match the measurements
and for those that don’t
the right hairstyle disguises imperfections
Fibonacci has uncovered
the fingerprint of
God sings creation into being
ofttimes flaunting the formulae
Beauty is never in
the eye of the beholder
or in the mathematics
but in the design of God
not for a Golden Ratio
but for a tender heart
God weighs the heart of Fibonacci
and He weighs the heart of me