A little experimentation with oil pastels. My conclusion is that they are very messy. Windhover is another name for a kestrel, a type of small falcon. Gerard Manley Hopkins, a reclusive Jesuit priest, was wildly ahead of its time in terms of form, to the point that, when his poems were first published, three decades after his death, people could scarcely believe they had been written in the Victorian period. It has been suggested that Hopkins’s poetry, ostensibly written for the greater glory of God, in fact channeled a suppressed homoerotic yearning, and to be sure, rarely has a bird been the object of so ardent a gaze as in this stunning poem.
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-vermilion.
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1877)