“The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins is a quasi-religious poem about the omnipresence and omnipotence of lord Christ, is stylistically significant poem due to the various types and levels of cohesiveness. As Christ is the master of this universe, everything in it reflects the majesty of the lord, and as the persona moves from a description of the bird to the praise of his beloved Christ, he speaks with such sounds and rhythm, words and images that reflect his feelings and the message he intends to convey.
Christ is everywhere in everything with unsurpassed power. This content or meaning of the poem is expressed through the choice of the following cohesive structures of language in different levels of grammar that coherently occur in the poem.
In phonological level, Hopkins has constructed a spiral stanzaic pattern of 14 lines, which has visual and sonic effect to the majesty of the lord reflected in the spiral soaring up of “the windhover” while riding up the air that has reinforced the “sweeping” sound of the air “rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing” is directly implicated in our way of recitation and flow of air stream affected by the stanzaic pattern, which Hopkins see as the “ecstasy” and “mastery” of lord Christ’s power. This power of the windhover is further intensified by the repetition of voiced consonant [d] like in “Day light’s dauphin, dapper-drawn-drawn” and the gliding consonants [w] in “wimpling wing”, “sweeps”, “swing” that has unstoppable flow like that of liquid consonants [l,r] in “riding” “striding” “wimpling”, “air”, “pride” “plume” “billion”, “sillion”, “lovelier”, “brute”, “chevalier” etc. This shows the “mastery” achieved by the lord reflected in the windhover, the falcon, without whose power everything is like voiceless [f] in “falcon,” “fall” etc and [h] in “hover, high, hurl, hiding’ etc. This “mastery” of the lord is presented in every worldly thing to Hopkins at the degree of “ecstasy”. This power of the lord is even cohesive to the rhyme pattern of the poem wherin the first line is rhymeless since it does have no support of other lines. So, it is as independent as the lord Christ. But remaining lines 2/3/4/5/6/7/8 are rhyming continuously in “riding/striding/wing/swing/gliding/hiding/ thing” which do not only show the different activities of the worldly things but also possess similarity of rhyming as they are rhymed by the power of the lord. Similar rhyme patterns but in alternation can be found in rest of the lines like among “here/chevalier/dear” and “billion/sillion/vermilion.” These rhyming patterns show the peculiar trinity of three different words which is mutually cohesive to the trinity of the Father God, Son God, and the Holy Spirit in Christianity ultimately reflected in Christ then to the worldly things like in “the windhover and its actions”, in “buckles”, in “fire breaks” in “plough down sillion” in “blue-bleak embers”, in “gas gold-vermilion” etc. Therefore, the Christ is at once the “brute beauty”, “valour and act”, “air and pride”, “lovelier and dangerous” since He is “Chevalier!”
Such omnipresence and omnipotence of the lord is also cohesive even to the selection of morphological patterns in the poem. The selection of lexical items encompasses wide varieties of worldly issues like to bird in “the windhover”, to time “morning, daylight”, to politics “kingdom, minion”, to riding “striding buckle”, to flying in “wimpling, wing, swing, sweeps”, to sports “skate’s heel, a bow bend, hurl, gliding, rolling”, to economics “billion”, to abstract qualities “beauty, valour, act, air, pride, love, danger”, to religion “Chevalier”, to minerals “embers, gas, gold”, to agriculture “plod, plough, sillion” etc., these relentless but appropriate selection of the diction in the poem has contributed to show the omnipresence of the lord activated by this omnipotent power. The use of unusual compounds like “dapper-drawn-drawn” and unusual phrases like “brute beauty” and “blue-bleak” are supporting the peculiar perception of the lord by Hopkins, and his unusual parallel juxtaposition of spiritual divinity with physical things.
Another striking lexical pattern is the absence of helping verbs in the poem which show the needlessness of others support to the lord since He is omnipotent and omnipresent. Similarly, the finite verbs are associated with motion and action like “rung, sweeps, rebuffed, stirred, breaks, makes, fall” etc., show the motion and power inherent in the lord.
Similarly, the semantic and syntactic choices have mutual contribution to the theme of the poem. The “I” of the poem is just an experiencer of the “ecstasy and mastery” performed by the lord in the disguise of the “windhover” which is an agent of its actions. The windhover is the agent in the poem as it is the lord Christ ultimately. So are “sheer plod”, “embers” “gash-gold-vermilion” as agents since they too, represent the lord Himself. So, the poem has violated the practical sense of pragmatics in a sense that it has agentivized the inanimate things. However, it is cohesive in the literary pragmatics where in the poet is getting Christ in non-spiritual things too. In syntactic level too, the poem compounds many subordinate clauses and phrases and words into the main clause that is supporting Hopkins’s view of the lord as the symbol of the universe in whom everything is compounded. So, the lord’s timeless and spaceless omnipresence and omnipotence is reinforced by using two “AUX” elements of TENSE together like PAST in “rebutted, rung, stirred” and NON-PAST in “sweeps, makes, breaks” etc.
Thus, the poem is not only about unusual and complex perception of divinity into worldly matters by giving justification of the lord’s omnipresence and omnipotence, but also masterful example of having unusual and complex choices of lexical properties in different levels of language to support the sense of the poem that has everlasting effect in social concept of religion and divinity, and in linguistic exploitation in literature with peculiarities.
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: shéer plód makes plough down sillion Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.