Releasing the Hawk

Last updated: July 24, 2017 at 22:19 pm

Please refer to: A Comprehensive English Course for CXC: Book 5. Page: 47

First, study the vocabulary of the passage, as outlined below:

Mountain aspen – an aspen is a type of tree from western North America with leaves that shake a lot in the wind. A mountain aspen is one such tree that grows on a mountain.

Premonitory – giving warning that something unpleasant is going to happen.

Unutterable – too extreme to be expressed in words.

Ecstatic – extremely happy and excited.

Tingles – feelings of excitement; slight stinging feeling, especially on the skin.

Premeditated – decided after careful thought; carefully planned.

Exemplify – to be a good example of.

Vault – a room with thick walls and a strong door where money, jewels, etc are kept to prevent theft or damage. A roof or ceiling with several arches joined together.

Hurtle – to move or fall very fast.

The comprehension passage speaks about a man releasing a hawk back into the wild. Perhaps he had held the hawk captive in a cage for some time. He describes his experience in releasing the hawk back to its natural habitat.

The narrator says that the hawk lay on the grass for a long minute without moving. He speculates that the hawk did that because its thoughts were far off and it didn’t feel being released. However, having studied the intelligent nature and subtlety of animals, my opinion is that the hawk did that as an escape tactic: the hawk lay there to give the impression that it was not excited about an escape. Then the hawk, at the opportune time, flew off “like a flicker of light”.

National Geographic Explorers as well as many nature articles of real life experiences with animals will tell us how subtle and cunning animals can get. They were designed for survival and have evolved with skills that deceive and trick and helps them to stay alive.

For example, a snake will develop a camouflage with its environment. That is, it would develop the same colors as the vegetation or sand around it. To avoid being spotted when it senses unwanted visitors, it would remain stationary among the vegetation or sand.

Yes, animals can be deceitful and tricky and may display an even greater survival instinct than humans.

When the narrator released the hawk, its mate was also in the sky. The hawk’s mate released a cry of joy. The narrator describes the joy as “ecstatic” and “unutterable”. This was the joy of the hawk finding its mate back. The narrator still clearly remembers that cry of joy years later. And he remembers it often. The joyful cry of the hawk’s mate resounds in his memory perhaps daily. It is something he could not easily forget. He expresses this in the line: sounds down across the years and tingles among the cups of my quiet breakfast table.


  1. In line 1, “him” refers to the hawk that the narrator had captured and was about to release.
  2. The expression “that last look” suggest that that was the last time the hawk would have to look from captivity into the wild and long for freedom.
  3. Yes, the narrator’s releasing of the hawk was not premeditated. The expression “I must have had an idea of what I was about to do, but I never let it come up into my consciousness” proves this.
  4. The “blue vault” represents the sky. The device it exemplifies it the metaphor.
  5. The writer considers the minute long because he expected the hawk to fly away instantly, and he was waiting for that to happen.
  6. The aspect of nature that impressed the narrator most is the hawk’s longing for her mate and her joy in finding him again.
  7. The narrator heard the cry of the mate of the hawk he had released. The words “ecstatic” and “unutterable” are used to describe the cry.
  8. The cry impressed upon the narrator’s memory. It amazed him that such passion can be found among birds. The depth of the expressions of joy impacted him greatly.
  9. Flicker – a flicker is a quick, almost undetectable movement of a flame of fire. The word “flicker” was used to convey the absolute speed with which the hawk flew off.

Hurtled – from hurtle – to hurtle means to move or fall with great force. This is use to describe the manner in which the other hawk was flying: the hawk was dashing.

Tingles – a tingle is a brief, light sensation of the skin. This word is used to express the fact that the hawk’s cry resounded in the narrator’s memory through the years to come.

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