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'Hopkins's Kestrel: Drafting "The Windhover", 1877-1884'

Citation: Owens, Thomas (2019) 'Hopkins's Kestrel: Drafting "The Windhover", 1877-1884'. Victorian Poetry, 57 (1). pp. 43-72. ISSN 1530-7190

Owens_Hopkins's Kestrel (SAS).pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

This article offers the first full account of the textual genesis of "The Windhover," situating the revisions made to the poem between 1877 and 1884 in their specific social and theological contexts to clarify the spiritual axis along which it was written. Tracing the poem's compositional history also has significant implications for understanding Hopkins's verse craft and the development of sprung rhythm. The seminal changes of 1884 can be dated very specifically to a fortnight between late February and early March, coinciding with the start of Lent. This time frame is consolidated by juxtaposing these changes alongside several entries particularizing Hopkins's daily meditative practices in the Dublin Notebook that are extremely pertinent to the poem and that have not hitherto been assessed in conjunction with it. Whereas the 1877 emendations to "The Windhover" record a poet's instinctive joy in the natural world, those of 1884 are predominantly determined by a priest's wish to adhere to the will of God.

Creators: Owens, Thomas and
Official URL:
Subjects: English
Divisions: Institute of English Studies
  • 4 June 2018 (accepted)
  • 10 August 2019 (published)


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