Here is the summary, questions, answers, and solutions of the poem The Windhover which is a part of the syllabus of class 10 English for students studying under Nagaland Board of School Education. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: The Windhover is a poem written by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a 19th-century English poet and Jesuit priest. It is known for its intricate language and use of sprung rhythm, a poetic meter that Hopkins developed to capture the movement and energy of natural phenomena. The poem is structured as a single stanza with ten lines and uses a rhyme scheme of abba.
The poem begins with a description of a windhover, a type of bird also known as a kestrel, as it hovers in the air. The speaker describes the bird’s wings and body as it “glances,” “darts,” and “wheels” through the sky. The speaker then compares the bird’s movements to those of a dancer, using words such as “swerve,” “curve,” and “flick” to convey the grace and agility of the windhover.
In the second half of the poem, the speaker shifts from describing the physical movements of the windhover to exploring its inner life and motivations. The bird is described as a “blue-bleak ember,” suggesting both its physical appearance and its intense focus and determination. The speaker also uses religious language, referring to the windhover as a “seraph” and comparing its movements to “tremulous” prayer.
The final lines of the poem offer a meditation on the relationship between the windhover and the natural world around it. The speaker describes the bird as “all” and “each,” suggesting its unity with the surrounding environment. The poem ends with the line “My heart in hiding stirred for a bird,” implying that the speaker has been moved by the beauty and majesty of the windhover.
Overall, The Windhover is a tribute to the natural world and the beauty and complexity of life. It celebrates the windhover as a symbol of grace, strength, and connection with the environment. The poem’s use of sprung rhythm and vivid language brings the windhover to life, inviting readers to marvel at its beauty and wonder.
A. Reference to Context
Read these lines from the poem and answer the questions with reference to the context.
1. I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom
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,
a) What did the poet see?
b) What was it doing?
c) What does he compare it to?
d) Identify an instance of alliteration in the extract.
Answer: a) The poet saw a kestrel (windhover).
b) The bird was flying high in the sky and doing different tricks during the flight.
c) He compared it to the crown prince of the kingdom of daylight or Christ.
d) “dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn” is an instance of alliteration in the extract.
B. Read and Write
1. Describe the setting of the poem.
Answer: The poem is set during dawn, possibly in a field.
4. Hopkins compares the windhover to many things. What are they? What characteristics of the bird do they reveal?
Answer: Hopkins compared the windhover with embers, furrow, and dauphin. According to the poet, the bird resembles embers as embers suddenly break out in a flame again when stirred, so does the bird rise high again after a seemingly fall. It is also like a furrow that may look dull but life springs from it. He compared it to a dauphin due to its majesty and beauty during the flight which is unparalleled and worthy of being above everything else.
1. Hopkins uses unfamiliar words, mixes up sentence structures, and uses familiar words in totally unexpected and unfamiliar ways. He even makes up words entirely. How do these words contribute to creating the image of the windhover?
Answer: Hopkins uses unfamiliar words, mixes up sentence structures, and uses familiar words in totally unexpected and unfamiliar ways. He even makes up words entirely. All these pictures the windhover in a very extraordinary way which is a prerequisite when being compared with the qualities of Christ.
2. Hopkins has used a number of foreign words and references in the poem. Find out what they refer to: dauphin, chevalier
Answer: Dauphin is a French word for the crown prince or the one who is next in line to be king. Chevalier is also a French word for ‘knight.’
4. How many lines are there in the poem? Fourteen. A poem of fourteen lines is called a sonnet. Work out the rhyming scheme of the octet (eight lines) and sestet (six lines).
Answer: A poem of fourteen lines that follows the rhyme scheme abbaabba in the octet and cdecde or cdcdcd in the sestet is called a Petrarchan sonnet. Alternatively, a poem of fourteen lines that follows the rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg is called an English sonnet, or a Shakespearean sonnet.
In a Petrarchan sonnet, the octet (eight lines) follows the rhyme scheme abbaabba. This means that the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each other, while the third, fourth, and eighth lines rhyme with each other. The sestet (six lines) then follows the rhyme scheme cdecde or cdcdcd, with the final two lines often forming a rhymed couplet.
In an English sonnet, the octet (eight lines) follows the rhyme scheme abab cdcd, with the first, second, fifth, and sixth lines rhyming with each other. The sestet (six lines) follows the rhyme scheme efef gg, with the final two lines often forming a rhymed couplet.
It’s important to note that these are just two of the many possible rhyme schemes for a sonnet. Some sonnets may follow different rhyme schemes, or may not follow a traditional rhyme scheme at all.
Extra questions and answers
1. Why do you think the windhover, in particular, inspired Hopkins to write this poem?
Answer: I think the windhover inspired Hopkins because the beauty of the windhover and its majestic performance during its flight in the sky attracted the poet very much and reminded him of the majesty of its creator.
10. How does the speaker’s use of religious imagery and language contribute to the overall theme of the poem?
Answer: The speaker emphasises the windhover’s relationship to the divine and the spiritual by using religious imagery and language, which adds to the poem’s overarching theme. This suggests that the windhover represents something other than just being a lovely and graceful creature, and it gives the speaker’s admiration and awe for the bird depth and meaning.
11. How does the speaker’s use of religious imagery and language relate to Hopkins’ own beliefs and experiences?
Answer: As a Jesuit priest and a devout believer, Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetry frequently expresses his spirituality and faith. Since Hopkins views the majesty and beauty of the natural world through a spiritual lens in “The Windhover” it is possible to interpret Hopkins’ use of religious imagery and language as an expression of his personal beliefs and experiences.
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Nice little hard