The composer writes: “The North American Kestrel is a jay-sized bird, characterized by its rusty plumage and pale blue-gray wings. This small hawk has the rare ability to hover in the air, essentially flying in place while scanning the ground in search of prey. Its British counterpart – the Eurasian Kestrel – is called the “windhover” because of this habit. To narrate my musical journey, I chose Hopkin’s poem, which reflects the glory of the falcon’s flight through its sweeping syllables and soaring rhythms.”
“The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)
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 gliding
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: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.