Hopkins used his poems to demonstrate his own philosophy about the world. He believed that everything in the universe had unique individual characteristics that set every object or person apart from every other object that exists or has ever existed. He called these unique qualities the inscape.
Hopkins was also a devoutly religious man. He thought that writing poetry that focused on expressing the inscape of seemingly ordinary, commonplace things—like a bird in flight—would help readers get closer to God. How would you describe the inscape of your coffee mug? Your pencil? Your goldfish?