“The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
minion – subordinate
dauphin – prince
wimpling – cloth headpiece
chevalier – knight
Questions and Answers
1. Among the poem’s themes is the smooth merging of the windhover with the air. What literary devices does Hopkins employ to have his language appear equally smooth and fluid?
Hopkins’ poem uses alliteration, consonance, and assonance to create a fluid stream of words and thoughts. He also uses parallelism and unusual syntax to make his words seem almost melodic.
2. “The Windhover” is written with a meter in which the number of accents in a line is counted, but not the number of syllables. What is the term for this type of meter?
This type of meter is called sprung rhythm.
3. The poem is a fourteen-line sonnet, consisting of an octave and two tercets. The subject matter of the poem switches after the octave from the windhover to the speaker’s chevalier, a medieval image of Christ on a horse. How are the two subjects linked by the speaker?
The speaker links the two subjects by the mention of his heart. Witnessing the bird hovering in the air sets his heart-stirring, which is similar to the feeling that thoughts of Christ have on him.
4. What is the speaker referring to when he says in line ten, “ – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!”?
The speaker is referring to the Falcon, which is flying above the speaker through the morning air.
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