Goldengrove Unleaving

Now is the time of year when the air should hint of apple cider and bonfires, when sweaters and warm cozy things are all that is needed to fill the heart with delight, when the hue of the trees shifts into more rich and vibrant colors.

Unfortunately, Texas does not participate in this wonderful thing known as “Autumn”. This is a great sorrow to me.

But the official calender declares that it is indeed Fall, and thus it give me the opportunity to share one of my favorite poems.

Hopkins is writing about the deep sorrow of mortality, and a child’s first experience of it as such. Yet there is also a wonder and awe at the fact that innocent can enter into for something as simple as a passing beauty. It is heart wrenching and gorgeous at once, in the most splendidly paradoxical of ways!



Spring and Fall

                                                                                  to a young child


By G.M. Hopkins

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older        5
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:        10
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.        15


One thought on “Goldengrove Unleaving

  1. I once used this Hopkins poem in an essay/article debunking ‘sprung rhythm’. The article itself was a preface to a sonnet I wrote that actually employed sprung rhythm – having debunked it I wrested it to my own purpose!

    The declared prime characteristic of sprung rhythm is its naturalness. For that reason I always prefer to see this particular poem without its directive stress marks, so that my own reading of it will be given what I feel are the natural stresses, pauses, and elisions. If Hopkins’ ‘discovery’ was valid, then the reader should fall into the rhythm without any bidding.

    It is a good, touching poem; it is of its time, yet it echoes.

    Marie Marshall

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