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Gerard Manley Hopkins was a member of the Catholic Church and a Jesuit
priest. In his point of view poetry is a way to celebrate God’s creation,
through one’s own experience (Kilmer 242). He considers that one’s meditation
upon Universe leads to Christ, this ‘the human being becomes a celebration of
the divine, at once recognising God’s creation and enchanting his or her own
God-given identity’ (The Norton Anthology 819). Also, Hopkins is a Victorian
poet, an age when poetry is link to religion, considering that ‘many influential
Victorian clerics were also literary critics’ (Scheinberg 178). Therefore, the
aim of this essay is to discuss some of the evidences of the religious
experience in the poem The Windhover.

Hopkins’ poems ‘re-enacts the imminence of presence’, therefore the poem
shows a strong demiurgic posture of the poet (Zirra). Drawing by Duns Scotus
philosophy, Hopkins believed that everything is defined by ‘inscape, the distinctive design that
constitute individual identity’ (The Norton Anthology 818). The human kind is
the most individually creature in the Universe and recognise other creature
inscape through the act of ‘instress, the
apprehension of an object in an intense thrust of energy toward it that enables
one to realise its specific distinctiveness’ (The Norton Anthology 818). Also,
the instress of inscape lead to God and Christ, therefore the poem emphasise Hopkins’
own religious experience through nature, God’s work of art (‘I caught’, ‘My
heart’- Hopkins). The verb ‘caught’ suggests Hopkins desire to give his poem
the unique design of the impression of the initial contact with his subject (The
Norton Anthology 819). Therefore, he presents the outstanding landscape of a
windhover flight in the sunrise. Also, ‘the stopping of the line in the middle
of the word “king”- postponed until the beginning of the next verse may
mimetically evoke the breath-taking surprise at the beginning of the vision'(Zirra).

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Furthermore, the poem’s title and subtitle illustrates the equivalent
between Christ and the windhover ‘as there is no creature but bespeaks of God’s
glory and especially here, where life is for a moment shown to be exceptional’
(Zirra). The windhover, a powerful and glorious creature, flies imposing above
the world as Christ watch on humankind (‘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!’- Hopkins 3-5). The bird is moving steadily, controlling
the air high and proud in the sky, as a king rain his kingdom. At one moment,
the bird is ‘off, off forth on swing’, balancing through the force of air to
propel again in the high skies. Thus the poem is ‘about the effect of Christ’s
saving, controlling, loving appearance into the world’ (Zirra). The images of the
minion (‘a mediaeval courtly page, servant, minstrel – as a lesser ministrant)’
becomes first a dauphin (the kingly prince), then a Falcon (‘a more adult and
sublime mediaeval emblem of orderly…’).  Zirra
may suggests the windhover’s gradual arrival until he appears as ‘the kind of
the world’, exactly as Christ’s course from his childhood until his crucifixion
in the name of mankind’s salvation. Also, Hopkins believe that poetry is like
prophecy which mankind can confirm or discredit (Scheinberg 177).

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