“As Kingfishers Catch Fire”


Zaklog the Great invited me back again to share poetry with him and his friend Travis. This time we talked about the layers of meaning in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s magnificent “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”:

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells 
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s 
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, 
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came

I say móre: the just man justices; 
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; 
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is — 
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places, 
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his 
To the Father through the features of men's faces. 
We talk about the role of poetry in education, why poetry is typically so badly taught, how to learn to write poetry (shout out to my Dragon Common Room), what Hopkins meant by “sprung rhythm,” what kingfishers look like when they dive, what the creatures say about themselves, and where to see God. We also talk about the effects of wearing masks that cover our mouths as opposed to our eyes and how writing poetry can help us break the spell of the Masks.

Watch on YouTube: Zaklog the Great

For a complete list of my video, podcast, and radio appearances, see Bear On Air. Visit the Dragon Common Room on Telegram for training in virtue and verse. See Dragons’ Keep for guides to the Christian imagination, including links to books referenced in the video.


  1. I can't recommend the Dragon Common Room on Telegram enough. I haven't tried to write poetry since I was a teenager (it was bad!) We are all getting so much better at writing together!


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