An Explanation of Spring and Fall

An Explication of Spring and Fall: To a Young Child Hopkins starts his poem, Spring and Fall: To a Young Child, with a question to a young girl, perhaps his granddaughter: “Margaret, are you grieving[? ]” (line 1). This quotation suggests that Margaret is watching the leaves fall from the trees in the fall and is sad to see the leaves go. Margaret is a young child, and in being young, she would have no knowledge of the seasons and why the leaves are falling. “Over Goldengrove unleaving? (line 2), Goldengrove may be metaphorical for her childhood and her lack of knowledge in life and death, because Goldengrove sounds very playful and beautiful like a garden or playground. ”Leaves, [like the things of man]/ With [her] fresh thoughts care for, can you? ” (line 3 and line 4), once again Hopkins uses questioning his poem, asking the young girl how she could care about such unimportant things as leaves. With line three of his poem, Hopkins also implies that Margaret is showing characteristics of man by caring about the leaves. He continues that idea in: “Ah! s the heart grows older/”(line 5). Hopkins is trying to tell Margaret that as she grows older into womanhood, her heart will as well. “It will come to such sights colder. ” (line 6), this idea is even further continued in line six, where Hopkins tells Margaret that leaves falling from a tree is only the beginning of her sadness, because as she gets older, she will see worse things than that. “Nor spare a sigh/[Though worlds of] wanwood leafmeal lie”(line 8) Hopkins tells Margaret that as she grows older and sees how bad things are she will not dare to cry at the sight of fallen leaves ever again.

But, Hopkins assures her that she will indeed still cry, “Now no matter, child, the name” (line 10). Hopkins then tells the child that she won’t know or be able to verbalize why she feels so sad: “Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed” (line 11). Hopkins continues with “It is the blight man was born for,” (line 13) meaning that everyone is born to do one thing, and that is die. As Hopkins’s poem comes to an end, the last line reads, “It is Margaret you mourn for. ” (line 14). This says that Margaret will mourn her whole life away, grieving about her own unavoidable demise, and that she will never even realize that is why she is sad.

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