Saturday, March 24, 2018

"Spring and Fall," by G. M. Hopkins

Today we continue a series of poems begun earlier this year, in an effort to bring more poetry into our lives.  My first real introduction to Gerard Manley Hopkins came at my wife's suggestion, by way of Ron Hansen's historical novel, Exiles.  A Catholic convert - received into the Church by none other than John Henry Newman - and a Jesuit priest, Hopkins was also one of the great poets of his day, though his fame was mostly posthumous.  One of the reasons I value this poem, and think it worth sharing here, is that it comes more alive - in sound and in meaning - with repeated readings.  (Out loud is really best; for a while it sat above our kitchen sink, where I would quietly recite it while doing dishes.)

Spring and Fall

to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás 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 wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
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.

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