Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Windhover

Gerard Manley Hopkins is probably my favorite poet. (I'm delightfully indecisive when it comes to favorites in books and poems, but Hopkins is consistently one of my favorites, and he's my favorite at the moment.) 

But really. His poems are beautiful and moving. A mixture of spirituality, nature, and philosophy. They just taste good to me. 

I was reciting this one to myself this morning . . . I didn't know I was doing it, it just happened. 

Ah, I love literature. 

The Windhover--To Christ, our Lord 

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,        5
  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        10
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.

Hopkins' poetry can be difficult to understand. There's just so much in there, especially in this poem. 

This poem compares Christ to a diving falcon. It reminds me of 1 Nephi 11:16-17: 

"And he [the angel] said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God? 
And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children, nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." 

There is something divinely beautiful about the love that God has for His children, so much that He sent His only Son to descend below all things. There is wonder in Christ's condescension for us; that He would leave His high position to "fall, gall [Himself] and gash gold-vermillion." 

That's how I read the poem, anyway. I could go on and on about the symbolism and what it means to me. But for now I'll just say that this poem has expanded my perception of God's grace and glory.  

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