Dapple, Pied, Spotted

noun, adjective, verb, -pled, -pling.
1. a spot or mottled marking, usually occurring in clusters.
2. an animal with a mottled skin or coat.
3.dappled; spotted: a dapple horse.
–verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
4.to mark or become marked with spots.
Origin: 1545–55; probably back formation from dappled

Word Origin & History
c.1400 ( dappled ), perhaps a back-formation from dapple-grey “apple-grey” (late 14c.), by resemblance to the markings on an apple (cf. O.N. apalgrar “dapple-gray”), or, as it was used of gray horses with round blotches, perhaps of apples themselves.

Dappled. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Dappled (accessed: August 06, 2011).

Pied Beauty in the swamp - Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Bird Sanctuary, Naples Florida

The falling of light on the vegetation is one of the things that I find achingly beautiful about the woodlands. I was thinking of the word dappled as we drove through southern Indiana farmland last weekend, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Pied Beauty came to mind, especially the line “Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough”.

This has always been one of my favorite Hopkins poems, although I hadn’t read it for a long time. Missed you, old friend. I particularly like couple-color, role-moles, chestnut-falls, swift,slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim. This poem MUST be read aloud!

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.


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