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Hopkin's "The Windhover" and Hughes's "The Hawk Roosting" can be read as companion poems. In fact the latter can be seen as a subversive rewriting of the former. Hopkins's poem is like a "parent poem" (in Harold Bloom's vocabulary) to Hughes, which he deconstructs in "The Hawk Roosting."
Both poems are about power, supremacy and mastery of the world. In both poems, the focus is on a bird of prey who has the world under control. Hopkins's poem and this is crucial, is written from the perspective of an appreciative onlooker of the bird while in Hughes's poem, the persona is shamanistically metamorphosed, as it were, into the bird.
I think, what Hughes does is to question the positive/transcendental and epiphanic value that Hopkins seems to associate with the fire of the falcon in its wind-hover-state. His vision relocates the dictatorial power in an alternative frame of indeterminacy. In fact, the Hughesian stress falls on the violence, the destructive acts of killing and the resistance to change that echoes so insistently in the maxim of the hawk. I think, the crucial difference between the two poems in terms of the image of nature is that Hopkins's nature is epiphanic, pantheistic, almost Spinozian in its immanence while Hughes's nature is thronged with The Fall and the resultant arbitrariness, sinfulness and cruelty of a potentially hostile universe.
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