under the patronage of St Joseph and St Dominic
By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept, remembering Zion;
“I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin,
Whenever I arrive home at my cottage on the left bank of the Wollondilly River near Goulburn after the sun has set, I approach the high steel barn where I garage the car with headlights dimmed. I leave the vehicle quietly by the back entrance and circle the building to head down the hill to the cottage. But before doing so I shine my torch at the inside of the gable above the barn’s front entrance. There, perched patiently awaiting the morning, is a small falcon of the species which in Australia we call the Nankeen Kestrel.
We have established, this bird and I, a modus vivendi: I don’t disturb his rest and he tolerates my occasional intrusions.
On every continent in the world there is a falcon that corresponds to this marvellous bird, capable in any wind up to 25 knots of remaining in the air on station, motionless, as it searches the ground for prey. The facility which takes man millions of hours of study and work to achieve in some noisy metallic contraption, this bird achieves naturally within days of fledging—
There is a lesson here for those prepared to read it, those diligent in resisting the temptation to harden their hearts against reality. The materialist Richard Dawkins is wont to refer to some aircraft as ‘a miracle’: he is a fool. No aircraft is anything but a clumsy imitation of reality. The miracle is the falcon that hovers over his field.
How fitting that Gerard Manley Hopkins should have dedicated his poem on the falcon to its creator, the Son of God, Christ Our Lord.
 Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Windhover; May 30th 1877. Hopkins described the poem in 1879 as “the best thing I ever wrote.” As a note on the poet’s expression the reader might consider the Dauphin’s praise of his horse in Shakespeare’s Henry V: ‘le cheval volant, the Pegasus, qui a les narines de feu! When I bestride him I soar, I am a hawk; he trots the air...’ [Act III, vii, line 11]