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The Windhover

The Windhover

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Windhover Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Why a windhover? Why do you think the windhover, in particular, inspired Hopkins to write this poem? Why not a bird that flies and soars—why a bird that hovers in the air? How would the poem be different if were about, say, an eagle?
  2. What might the windhover represent to the poet? 
  3. Is there a shift in tone in the poem? Where, and how does the tone change? 
  4. Make a list of the different things Hopkins compares the windhover to. What do those things have in common, if anything? What qualities do they reveal about the windhover?
  5. Why do you think Hopkins uses so many made-up words, or familiar words used in strange and unfamiliar ways? How do those difficult words shape our understanding of the windhover?

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