The Windhover

I was reading a review of a new biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins tonight and it got me thinking about Hopkins again. The review by Dennis Donoghue in the New Criterion talks about the difficulties and beauty of this poet and I was reminded of my favourite Hopkin’s poem, The Windhover, and I went back to read it again after a long break. Here it is:

The Windhover

To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-

dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding

Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding

High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing

In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,

As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding

Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding

Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here

Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion

Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion

Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,

Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

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