Spring and Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins

To a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

With thanks to Carroll Boswell of Caleb’s Eye for introducing me to this poem.


About Russell Boyle

Russell Boyle is a mathematics teacher, writer, and poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. Russell is the author of the Year 7 to 8 Mathematics Short-Answer Tasks, the Year 7 to 10 Mathematics Multiple-Choice Tasks, the Year 9 to 10 Extended-Response Tasks, the solutions to the Year 12 VCAA Mathematics Exams and the Web-Programming For Beginners series of courses. Sample poems and questions may be downloaded from http://russellboyle.com
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7 Responses to Spring and Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins

  1. It’s a great poem and I didn’t know it even though I like Hopkins. Those rhymes are very strong, aren’t they? I love the line “Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie.”

    • russellboyle says:

      Yes, Jason, the rhymes are extraordinary. And the line you’ve mentioned is beautiful and powerfully deep. I’m so grateful for having been introduced to Hopkins work but saddened to learn that his poems weren’t fully appreciated until long after his death.

  2. russellboyle says:

    Thanks, Tony. I do like your phrase “lost innocence” and have added it to the tags for this post. Good luck with the short story.

  3. indytony says:

    Wow, what a beautiful poem of lost innocence. I’ve been using falling leaves as an image in a short story I’m writing. I may try to find a way to weave this poem in.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  4. You are quick to find the best things. This is my favorite Hopkins, one of my favorite sonnets. Thank you.

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