Through summary and analysis of "Spring" and "Hurrahing in Harvest" by Hopkins, examine the themes in both poems.

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roberteinarsson's profile pic

roberteinarsson | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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"Spring and Fall" by Hopkins is one of the saddest poems you will read for a while. It is about a little girl named Margaret, who is playing with some fallen leaves. She is having funerals for the leaves, so Hopkins says "Margaret, are you grieving?" Is she grieving over the dead flowers in her game?

But Hopkins goes deeper. He says that funerals will not always be just a game for Margaret, or any one of us: "you will come to such sights sadder."

But the wonderful thing about the poem is the new words that Hopkins creates: "goldengrove" "unleaving", and so on. As always with Hopkins, it is all about the language.

This is also so in "Hurrahing in Harvest." This is a poem simply to praise God and rejoice in the wonder of His natural world. It is full of farming and nature imagery.

Now the thing to look for, is the strange language he uses for these things, for example:

what lovely behaviour   Of silk-sack clouds!

That is just a strange, poetic way to say how nice are the clouds!!

The whole poem is full of wonderful language used to describe the wonders of the world.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Hopkins is able to evoke a thematic connection between spiritual identity and the natural world in both poems. Hopkins's "Spring" focuses on the expression of consciousness during the season.  The poem opens with a regaling of its intrinsic seasonal beauty.  For example, "Lovely and lush" weeds meet with the purity of the thrush's eggs. From this sense of rebirth and renewal, a "richness" emerges.  This sense of the vivid enables "Spring" to reflect a period of innocence and sense of rebirth within which Hopkins identifies the spiritual condition of humanity:

In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,         
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,         
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,         
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.        
For Hopkins, there is an immediate connection between the natural world and spiritual identity.  The role of Spring enables Hopkins to reflect on the spiritual condition of the individual.  The natural world's beauty has enabled a profound sense of identity to be linked with the divine.  
 
This same element of spiritual identity within the context of the natural world can be seen in "Hurrahing in Harvest."  The opening description of beauty within harvest dots the poem.  The description of the season being "barbarous in beauty" and the "lovely behavior" of the clouds helps to enhance how the natural world is following a divine configuration.  Similar to "Spring," the natural condition in which the speaker finds themselves allows a portal for spiritual rumination:  "I walk, I life up, I lift up heart, eyes,/ Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour."  Hopkins links the natural beauty in which he engages in "Hurrahing" to the Rapture, when individual and divine are merged as one.  Again, the same element of divine connection set amidst natural beauty is evident.  When Hopkins writes "The Hurrahing sonnet was the outcome of half an hour of extreme enthusiasm as I walked home alone one day from fishing in the Elwy," one sees how the lucid link between spiritualism and natural immersion.  The "extreme enthusiasm" points to a moment where divine perception and natural experience converge.  In both poems, religious fervor meets with seasonal beauty.  The natural aesthetic of the world is perceived to be a divine quality.  Hopkins seeks to merge spiritual exercise with the physical experience of the world around him, reflecting the quality of discovery that guided his art and faith.
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