Sunday, August 19, 2007


A windhover, or kestrel, a falcon known for its
ability to hover in mid air, even against the wind.
When I was a teenager, I found a little article in one of those "magazines" that came with the Sunday newspaper. Charmingly illustrated, it was a list of actor Richard Burton's five favorite poems. I clipped that article and carried it with me for years. I probably lost it, finally, in our home fire.
It was my great introduction to one of my all-time loves, English literature. One of the poems was "The Windhover", printed below, and another was "Fern Hill," which I will print in my next post. A third was "Miniver Cheevy." At the moment, I can't remember the other two poems, but they may be somewhere in the nooks and crannies of my head.
I loved this poem even before I took a poetry class and learned that this is a poem that MUST be read aloud. And that's where I learned what "sheer plod makes plough down sillion shine" meant (Putting a plow to soil turns up bits of sparkle and shine where the sun hits it, is how our English professor explained it.)
"The Windhover"
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.
Stupid, stupid Blogger. Why will it let me double space sometimes and sometimes not?

1 comment:

Bimbimbie said...

New one for me but I will add it to me book against your name. Did you ever hear Richard Burton recite the poem ... sigh would have been a treat just imagining *!*