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· In Memoriam, John Lovas — Our Windhover ·

It was with profound sadness that I learned today of the death by cancer yesterday of John Lovas. John's comments to my postings, beginning with Mark, Mark, that Exclamation and ending with Veni Vidi, Vici, led to our visiting, in 2003, at the Modern Language Assoication meeting in San Diego, and to our collaboration, last March, at a meeting in San Francisco of the College Conference on Composition and Communication. John's lively intelligence, his dedicated professionalism, and his humane sense of justice, as those who knew him can attest, were inspiring.

To mark his passing, I thought to share today — from what he thought his own "inspiration" — Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "The Windhover." In marking, with three rousing exclamations, what all those who have read A Writing Teacher's Blog saw in John, Hopkins shows us — students, colleagues, and fellow bloggers alike — what it really means to "take wing."

The Windhover
To Christ Our Lord


I CAUGHT this morning morning's minion, king-
  dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
  As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!


Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!


  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

John Lovas, 1939 - 2005.

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Posted by Styles on June 23, 2005 03:34 PM

"[T]he achieve of; the mastery of the thing!" — what we learned from John. May he rest in peace.

Posted by loretta Markle on June 23, 2005 04:53 PM


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