I suppose that seems rather narrow, as a great many sonnets can be read by most Christians much to their improvement both in the spiritual and the secular order. However, this sonnet, possibly one of the most difficult in English, is certain the Master Sonnet for Christians, and for Catholic Christians at that.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
To Christ our Lord
I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dáwn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rólling level úndernéath him steady áir, & stríding
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 & gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, -- the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty & valour & 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 wónder of it: shéer plód makes plóugh down síllion
Shine, & blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gáll themsélves, & gásh góld-vermílion.
What a masterful working of the sonnet form! It isn't often that you see a rhyme scheme of AAAAAA BCBCBC. Admittedly, the first line-break is something of a cheat to get the scheme, but nevertheless we arrive. As one might expect from a Jesuit, the poem practically needs someone to guide you through it. While I'm not qualified to talk about all the nuances, I can give the reader a rough map and leave it to her/him how best to approach the magnificent and sometimes tortured language and thought behind the poem. First, a little bank of definitions:
Windhover-a kestrel or small hawk with pronounced red breast plumage
dauphin: the heir apparent to the French throne and by extension to any throne
wimpling: (probably clear by context) rippling
sillion: the furrow caused by the plow
Now, what to say about the poem? It is an ecstatic evocation of the soul's movement within us when we connect to an image outside ourselves that helps us understand God. It could be seen as an exultant reading of what Paul terms "the second book." The first is, of course (in St. Paul's view), the Hebrew Scriptures, but the second is nature itself.
What always moved me about the poem is the tremendous energy of the Windhover and its associations and the feeble motion it causes in the viewer who has locked himself up too much, "my heart in hiding/stirred for a bird..."
In addition there is the very mysterious conclusion in which Jesus ("my chevalier") is compared to the windhover and found a billion times more lovely and dangerous. Then we conclude with the statement that it is hardly a surprise as nature shows other examples of profound beauty as when by sheer effort the soil of the field lay in shining furrows and when an ashen covered ember falls and glows golden.
But this last three lines may also refer to Hopkins's reaction "my heart stirred for a bird." The preceding explanation "No wonder of it" may give the poet some consolation at the enormous strength and power of his reaction to this scene as he recalls that in other ways he has felt similar though smaller things. In a certain way it could be seen as an examen that allows Hopkins to list a few ways in which the knowledge of God has entered his otherwise closed world.
Hopkins is difficult to understand. But once again, read and read and read and read and then read aloud. Enjoy the sheer mastery of the language, the unexcelled beauty of what Hopkins is trying to do.
Hope this brief guide gives you the opportunity to explore more on your own. In works of real art, as in works of nature, the Lord of All makes His appearance.