Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday Sonnet: Gerard Manley Hopkins

And now, a dense sonnet written by Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1877, a poem marvelous in its compact complexity.

"The Windhover"

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-vermillion.

Rhyme scheme: abba abba cdc dcd
It looks at first as if the rhyme scheme should be aaaa aaaa bcb cbc, but a closer examination reveals the a rhymes to be words that end in "-ing" and the b rhymes to be words that end in "-iding."

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