Imagery and symbolism in As Kingfishers Catch Fire


The main figure of language in the octave is personification. Each object, whether animate or inanimate, is given a voice:

  • finds tongue to fling out broad its name'
  • myself it speaks and spells'.

The ‘indoors' metaphor is difficult. It seems to mean: each thing proclaims the essence of its inner being. There is a sense of being ‘at home' in itself, as we talk of people being ‘at home' in their skin.

Jesus portrayed as living within human beings

There is a biblical teaching that Christian believers are the body of Christ:

‘for we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body.....Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.' (1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 Corinthians 12:27 TNIV).

The ‘body of Christ' metaphor is thus a Christian commonplace, hovering between a literal and a figurative understanding. ‘Grace' can be a physical attribute as well as a spiritual one. There is a tradition of Catholic mysticism which is quite sensuous, and it is in this way that Hopkins writes.

Investigating As Kingfishers Catch Fire
  • Can you see that many expressions of philosophy or religion are actually metaphorical? We cannot express abstract or supernatural concepts literally without becoming too abstract for words (literally).
    • Can you think of some examples of how beliefs are made concrete by metaphors?
  • What human features are applied to the biblical God?
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