THE WINDHOVER

Gerard Hopkins in "The Windhover  puts divinity into human form as he compares the hovering bird to Christ. He writes a masterful description of the experience of watching the bird's physical feats and his heart's response to the experience. The poem's subtitle "To Christ our Lord  gives the reader the message that this poem is about more than just the moving experience of watching the windhover. This whole experience of observing the bird is a reflection of the glory of Christ's life and resurrection. Hopkins uses phrases throughout the poem that refer to both the bird and to Christ.

The poet sees the bird as an incarnated Christ. Hopkins implies that the hawk is wounded just as Christ was wounded as a man. In the beginning octave, he uses phrases that refer to royalty as he describes the bird, and Christ, as the "minion,  (1) the beloved of the morning and as the crown prince, "dauphin,  (2) of the kingdom of daylight. The hawk is described as riding the air as if it were on horseback, moving with steady control like a rider whose has firm control of the reins. At the end of the octave the rider is called, "my chevalier,  (11) a traditional image of Christ on horseback.

The motions of the bird can also be identified with Christ. The bird is depicted as "hung on the rein  (4) so that he cannot go away. Christ is "reined  in that he is always available to mortals for the bestowal of grace. Christ's transfiguration is implied as the poet speaks of the bird's "striding on high  (4). As the poet feels his heart stir as he watches the actions of the bird, one's heart stirs as one considers spiritual power and glory of Christ. The descriptive terms "brute beauty, valor, and act  show that the beauty of the bird in flight cannot compare to the glory of Chr

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