Hopkins’s Poetry

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“The Windhover”

Summary “The Windhover”

The final tercet within the sestet declares that this phenomenon is not a “wonder,” but rather an everyday occurrence—part of what it means to be human. This striving, far from exhausting the individual, serves to bring out his or her inner glow—much as the daily use of a metal plow, instead of wearing it down, actually polishes it—causing it to sparkle and shine. The suggestion is that there is a glittering, luminous core to every individual, which a concerted religious life can expose. The subsequent image is of embers breaking open to reveal a smoldering interior. Hopkins words this image so as to relate the concept back to the Crucifixion: The verb “gash” (which doubles for “gush”) suggests the wounding of Christ’s body and the shedding of his “gold-vermilion” blood.

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