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Preying or Praying?

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-

dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn falcon in his


‘The Windhover’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins


Read the whole poem, I urge you, I dare you.

I am tempted to transcribe it all, but that would be stealing from a dead man. But perhaps he wouldn’t mind.

I am contributing to his immortality, after all, a process he began with his poetry, probably not quite knowing what he was doing at the time.

He and I are connected across the ages now, holding hands across the page as I gaze in awestruck-ness at the kestrel — the windhover — as she exercises dominion over all she surveys. She is mistress of the sky, queen of the very air waves, in her element as I can only dream to be.

We think we’re smarter than her, more entitled to our segment of Earth, but she is unhindered by such arrogance, knows who she is without considering, she is all intent and instinct. Knows what she wants, knows how to get it, unshakable in her purpose.

The way she hangs suspended, then swoops down with such grace and ease, there is no flaw in design here, no cloudiness of vision. No thinking at all to get in her way. Just pure, crystal clear intention, laser focused unmuddied desire.

I long for such clarity.

I could never capture the glory of the kestrel the way that Hopkins did. Even he could not capture the true magnificence of the bird, which defies all words. Like the painter who tries to catch the light as it pours through the gaps in the leaves:

Shivelights and shadowtackle — Hopkins, again.

The most skilled artist of all, can only ever realize a pale imitation of the real thing. Because you can’t be in a painting the way you can be in a forest. That 3D, 4D, 5D experience, when the breeze blows through you, the birdsong fills your senses, the scent of sap that permeates and the crunching sensation beneath your feet. And surrounding you, enveloping you, the colour, the beauty, the light. Your eyes are changed by it. Your pupils contract to let in the blue as you and the sky become one.

I want her as my power animal. The totem of my soul. She can guide me in her gliding, in her riding of the air.

And I, in turn, will try to be true to my own wild self.