Themes in As Kingfishers Catch Fire

The Beauty, variety and uniqueness of Nature

See Henry Purcell and The Windhover.

Christ's beauty

Christ's beauty manifests itself through humanity, just as in Hurrahing in Harvest it manifests itself through the landscape. Beauty was a central concept of Duns Scotus's philosophy, too, so the aesthetic poet is at one with the philosophical priest.

The grace of ordinary life

The mention of ‘keeping grace' in l.10 is an ambiguous phrase:

  • It could mean the normal religious phrase ‘(God's) grace keep you.'
  • Or that the upright person stays within the grace they have been given, i.e. humans are given grace to accomplish the telos or ultimate purpose of their lives
  • ‘Grace' is so called in Christian theology, because it is a gift not a right, nor is it particularly merited
  • This grace ‘keeps all his goings graces': i.e. everything a just person does will be ‘gracious', or even ‘graceful'. People who encounter the just person will feel they have come in touch with God, as people are said to have felt when meeting Mother Teresa, for example.
Investigating As Kingfishers Catch Fire
  • Do some research on the various meanings of the word ‘grace'.
  • In what ways can Hopkins' poems be said to have grace?
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