I doubt Gerard Manley Hopkins ever made it to Africa.
In fact, I’ve checked. He didn’t.
But his poetry could have been inspired by the rhythms of the continent, by its dramatic landscape, by its preposterously diverse (read: deliriously kooky) wildlife.
Out in the middle of the Serengeti, bumping along in a camo-colored jeep, I found myself reciting Hopkins as a backdrop to the vast and dappled (a Hopkins word) canvas surrounding me.
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow: . . .
I wondered: Who thinks up creatures like the flamingo? Honestly. Hot pink? Double jointed?
That loopy neck thing going on?
Who dared submit that design to the board?
And the warthog? We’re serious?
The dung beetle? (Read that one again.)
Did no one want to test it before just putting it on the road?
All things counter,
Whatever is fickle,
Freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: