John L. Stanizzi
It was a strange and beautiful morning. As I was beginning to talk about Gerard Manley Hopkins’ great poem, The Windhover, a cardinal began banging against the window of our classroom. He would alight on a branch a few feet from the window and then launch into the glass….over and over. Of course, we were all distracted and delighted, as he would not stop….but neither would I. We continued discussing the poem, including –when it seemed appropriate -- our beautiful friend just outside. When we got to the end of the poem, to that marvelous gold-vermilion, it occurred to me – Maybe this cardinal wants us to know that, as far as he’s concerned, this poem is about his splendor! I told my students about this inspiration, and after I’d written the poem, brought to class to share with them. They were delighted – as was I – to have been there on that day when a cardinal wanted in on a discussion about a kestrel.
The Windhover and the Cardinal
Still to Christ our Lord
I was teaching Intro. to Lit. at 8 in the morning
and I always started slow to ease their morphing
from zombies to humans, from unconsciousness to yawning.
On this particular morning, studying The Wind-
hover, my students noticed a cardinal hurling
his ruddiness against our window, searching
for what? His own lovely image or something
larger? I opened the window as I was launching
into the great first line for all to hear!
I yelled, I caught this morning morning’s minion,
and the cardinal didn’t move; he stayed right there.
No wonder of it, I thought. He was of the opinion
that it’s that final blast of redness we should revere,
that the real point of the poem is that gold-vermilion.
©2016 John L. Stanizzi