Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Windhover

The photograph above, of a hovering male Kestrel, was taken this morning at Priest Hill. It was only after I returned home that I became aware that today has been designated as 'World Poetry Day' and, being a surprisingly cultured oaf, immediately thought that this image would be apt for a post. The Windhover was written by Gerard Manley Hopkins, that clerical poet who celebrated the natural world in many of his writings. It was a poem that I came across at school, when studying for my English Literature O-level, where I was lucky enough to be taught by a fine teacher, one Mr McTiffin. He instilled in me a love for the written word that has remained to this very day. So, for an appreciation of the Kestrel, over to you Gerard...

I caught this morning morning's minion, kingdom
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: shèer plòd makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold vermilion.


  1. He certainly pinned down how the kestrel is a master of the air

  2. Words to leave you speechless! Beautiful photo too, Steve. Hopkins was part of my schooling too. He became more personal when, as a teenager, I was ill for some months, and the local vicar came to visit (small village!). His parting gift was a copy of Hopkins' poems. I appreciate them all the more now.

    1. Lovely to hear from you Lucy. Hope you're keeping well.

    2. Thanks Steve, yes looking forward to that first local White Arse ;-)!

  3. I remember Mr McTiffin! A brilliant teacher and my form teacher for a year, I always credited him for the decent O level grades that I got. Nice photo as well

    1. He was a fantastic teacher Stephen, and one of the few who had absolute control over a class.