Sunday, June 08, 2008

I read this poem, one of my long-time favorites, over breakfast, on this, the first morning of my summer vacation.

(NOTE: A windhover is a small falcon, a minion is a servant, a chavalier is a loyal and brave person, but I have never been able to find "sillion" in any dictionary.)

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in
his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,--the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! and the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Because I needed the definition to feel whole, I found this website,, which discussed this very poem, and actually defined "sillion": "Sillion is usually called the slice or furrow-slice sometimes the mould. It is the thick body of soil that is turned over by the plough." So now we know at least one person's take on it! See also