[Mr. Fant, an undergraduate at Bob Jones University, e-mailed the following response to my comments on "buckle" in the poem and has permitted me to put it in the Victorian Web GPL.]

I was reading your commentary on "The Windhover" by GMH and noticed your treatment of the word "Buckle!"

Perhaps the best explanation for his use of this phrase is to assume he wants the double meaning: buckle meaning to fall (or break under weight and plunge downward) and to prepare for action. This image would be perfected in the image of Jesus Christ (see "To Christ Our Lord") who lowered himself toward earth from heaven (see Philippians 2:5-11 in the New Testament) and did so because of one action he was going to perform — the cross. This image in the context of the poem makes better sense; buckle means both of these ideas at the same time! By using this technique, Hopkins is able to present the beautiful image of Christ who is humbly killed on the cross. [I agree completely here with Mr. Fant, and, as I told him, "When I teach Hopkins I point out that he is perhaps the only poet whose poems contain intentionally ambiguous wordplay almost all of whose meanings work and are correct. This is part of his using poems as religious meditations." GPL]

Also — gall was offered to Christ on the Cross.

Fall — reference to the fall of man (see Paradise Lost) that made Christ's coming to earth necessary.

I hope this may help — may God bless you.

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Last modified 7 March 2006