Hopkins Winhover Analysis
Who is God? Gerard Hopkins spent his life finding the answer through his poetry and exploring the nature around him. In Gerard Hopkins’ poem “The Windhover” there is a representational allusion to Christ and Jesus. The speaker praises the Lord by praising what he takes as a symbol for Christ. Throughout the poem the speaker symbolizes Christ’s glory by the way the falcon reacts to the air, how it maneuvers and even characteristic traits of the falcon species. The poem uses alliteration, internal rhyming, compound metaphors, elliptical grammar and complex threads of connotation.
One could only appreciate the glory of the Lord more after interpreting the poem. The poem is almost impossible to understand without good background knowledge about Hopkins’s ideas and his odd words. There are many words of the Anglo-Saxon origin like rung (past tense of ‘ring’), minion, dauphin, and chevalier. There are also unusual combinations like “dapple-dawn-drawn”, which is an image of the bird. The last stanza is particularly complex because of the associatively linked words related to Christ and his sacrifice.
Finally, the grammar is also odd; actually the poem does not follow any traditional grammar and structure. In short, the poem can be discussed as a sonnet because it has some of the features of the typical sonnet, but it must be called a modified sonnet adapted to a different kind of subject, word-game and music. The poem is therefore the thanksgiving to Christ. It is a hymn that is romantic in form but religious in theme. When the poet sees the beautiful bird, he is reminded of Christ and becomes thankful and appreciative of him.
The poem’s theme is therefore related to the poet’s praise of Christ rather than being about the bird. Hopkins has mixed his romantic fascination with the nature and his religious favor of gratitude towards God for giving us a beautiful nature. The beauty of nature is illustrated by his attention that is suddenly drawn by the scene of a bird flying in the sky. He describes a bird which he saw flying in the sky that morning. Like in a romantic poem, he remembers the experience to express his feelings. That morning, the speaker had been out at dawn.
From the excited description in the poem, we can infer that the speaker was probably in the field. This admirer of Christ brings the image of Christ’s wounds, pain and sacrifice. This suggests that he always remembers and becomes thankful to Christ. The poem is subtitled “To Christ our Lord” because the falcon reminds him of Christ. The speaker continuously hails one of God’s most stunning creatures, the falcon. He is flabbergasted at the magnificence of the windhover’s flight. He wonders at its colorful feathers and the sheer speed of its flight.
His tone suggests that he is in awe. He is observing something equivalent to the second coming of Jesus or angels walking among regular men. He throws out a barrage of visual imagery to describe the windhover and still does not seem to come close to its real magnificence. He wonders how such a creature could exist but is eventually just filled with glee in knowing the fact that it does exist. In the first stanza the speaker states that he spotted the morning’s minion as if to suggest that the falcon was somehow less important to the morning.
He suggests that there is some sort of royal hierarchy by using words that recall images of sovereignty. He describes the different tricks of the bird’s flight. The second stanza takes a different stance on things. The windhover is out maneuvering when it smoothly and suddenly dives. The speaker is scared for the birds’ safety but is pleasantly surprised when the bird is lifted by a huge wind. One can say that in times of foolish pleasure he can fall but Christ will always be there to lift him back up.
Christ is the cushion needed for even a temporary fall from grace. Stanza three uses a stream of descriptive words to denote the dignity of such a creature. In the animal kingdom it would be considered king of the roost. The speaker calls the windhover a chevalier meaning knight or in other words a savior. Christ is also considered a savior. The speaker compares the bird and Christ with the hard work of the plow that creates a channel and displays the wet soil underneath and burned embers that shine red-gold when split open and burn with fire. That is directly omparable to the assumption that the speaker was living a dark life until the Lord stirred up his liveliness, split open his dark shell and helped him to shine with a new vigor for life. Christ could be seen in nature in the windhover’s existence. He is symbolized in all the actions of the falcon and also represented in its characteristics. The speaker praises the Lord by his amazed praise and represented in its characteristics. The speaker praises the Lord by his amazed praise and appreciation. Christ does exists in even the smaller details in life and all we have to do is observe them periodically to know that Christ lives on.