Poetry Explication of "Spring & Fall", by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Essay by jennaypcCollege, UndergraduateA, February 2007

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The poem "Spring and Fall" by Gerard Manley Hopkins is a poem focusing on the brevity of life, and the grief that is felt in the hearts of all mankind throughout our lives. It is also about the sadness felt by humans as we see ourselves aging, and ultimately about the fact that sin and separation from God bring sorrow and sadness that can never be fully explained by man.

The poet is seemingly speaking to a young child, Margaret, who in her naivety and youth is only beginning to learn about aging and death. The poem opens with a question to young Margaret, "Margaret are you grieving, over Goldengrove unleaving?" "Goldengrove" seems to be represented here as a beautiful place in which the young girl spends her days. This place is "unleaving" or perhaps losing its leaves before winter sets in, and the young child is saddened by this, as children usually are when things are no longer the way they once were.

The poet asks her, "leaves, like the things of man, you with your fresh thoughts care for, can you?" Could a girl this young possibly care for these things? Margaret seems to experience an emotional crisis when confronted with the fact of death and decay that the falling leaves represent here. She is saddened by this very real representation of death all around her.

This could very well represent the entire tone of the poem, a saddened and bleak outlook on life, and ultimately, death. Hopkins uses interesting language to enhance the mood of the poem. His use of words like: grieving, colder, sigh, weep, sorrow and blight capture the heart of reader and really draw them into the pain and sadness expressed here.

Line eight, "though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie," suggests...