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Riding the Wind

Kestrel, riding the wind.

This morning, having parked the car in Ventnor on my way to buy bread, I noticed a kestrel hovering over the cliff edge, scouring for prey below. It was a breezy morning, and the kestrel’s mastery of riding the wind was magnificent. Other than being that it just looked so much fun - I wanted to be doing that! When I got back into the car, amazingly, the ‘In Our Time’ people were talking about Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem The Windhover (another name for the kestrel). Soon, one of them actually started reading it. The first verse describes precisely, and majestically, what I saw:

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 ecstacy! then off, off forth on swing,

As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding

Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding

Stirred for a bird, - the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

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