Date of Award

Spring 1973

Document Type



Languages & Literature


My interest in Gerard Manley Hopkins began after I read a brief collection of his later poetry for the first time. Hopkins* acute sensitivity and tremendous depth of character reveal the man’s search for meaning in life, spirituality, and final communion with God. His greatness, as a man and a poet, rests in his diligent effort to comprehend the mysteries of his own existence within the Essence and Existence of God. All of this mystery,this God-focus, can be seen in the poem, "The Windhover", written in May of 1877. Utilizing falcon imagery, Hopkins exposes his own religious struggle, compounding it with his revelation of purpose and consolation. Because this brief poem so significantly subsumes Hopkins* theory of poetry, stylistic devices, and philosophy, I have isolated it for specific study. The objective of this thesis, then, will be to explore the religious transcendence of the poet in "The Windhover"; two other poems, "peace" (October 1879) and "The Caged Skylark" (September 1877) will further clarify and develop this transcendence by stressing the bird as a symbol in all three poems. Chapter One will deal with the bird itself in "The Windhover," its transition into symbolism in terms of myth, and the religious implications which underlie the bird imagery as Hopkins uses it. Chapters Two and Three, dealing with the poems, "peace" and "The Caged Skylark',’’ will also be concerned with the religious implications underlying the bird specifically seen in "The Windhover."