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The Windhover

The Windhover

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Awe and Amazement Theme

The inspiration for "The Windhover" is the speaker's awe and amazement at the windhover's awesome and amazing skill at hovering on the wind, so you better believe that he's more than a little impressed. One of Hopkins's goals in writing poetry was to inspire his readers with the same kind of awe and amazement that he felt when looking at simple, everyday objects—like a bird in flight. And we'd say this poem succeeds.

Questions About Awe and Amazement

  1. What's so awesome about the windhover, according to the speaker?
  2. Do you think the speaker would feel the same kind of awe at something that was manmade, or is his amazement and admiration limited to things in the natural world? How can you tell?
  3. Do you think that the speaker could feel the same kind of amazement at anything in the natural world? What about something we usually consider totally yucky, like a leech or a maggot?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The speaker of "The Windhover" feels a sense of awe at the bird's ability to harness a natural element as powerful and unpredictable as the wind.

The speaker of "The Windhover" wants to inspire the reader with a sense of amazement at even the most apparently mundane, everyday objects, like a bird in flight, or like a plough, or a bed of dying embers.

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