Gerard Manley Hopkins

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In the poem Spring And Fall, what is Margaret grieving about at the start?

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In “Spring and Fall,” Margaret is a young girl. The poem reveals that her grief is about the changing seasons and her loss of innocence.

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Margaret is grieving over Goldengrove "unleaving," or shedding its leaves at the onset of winter. We don't know anything about Goldengrove, but its very name would appear to suggest an idyllic haven of peace and repose burnished with the joyous bounties of nature. No wonder poor Margaret's grieving over the loss of such incredible beauty.

Though perfectly understandable, Margaret's reaction is a sign of her immaturity. The much more worldly-wise speaker is certain that when the young lady grows up, she will develop a more adult response to the scenes of natural decay around her. She will still weep, to be sure—not because trees have shed their leaves for the winter, but because in their "unleaving," she will recognize her own mortality. And then Margaret will finally come to understand that when she mourned over the loss of leaves in wintertime, she was really mourning for herself all along.

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In the opening of Gerald Manley Hopkins' poem Spring and Fall, Margaret is grieving the changing of the seasons. More directly, she is grieving the fact that the leaves are falling at Goldengrove.

It is suggested that she is too young to understand what is happening to the leaves upon the trees. The "death" of the leaves tugs at her heart; all she really understands is that the trees are dying.

Hopkins suggests that as she grows older, she will be able to understand why the seasons change and will come to understand that rebirth is inevitable. Once this happens, she will no longer grieve the changing of the seasons--she will learn to grieve the thigns which are not "renewable" --like the life of a human.

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In "Spring and Fall," who is Margaret, and what does the poem reveal about her grief?

In Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem “Spring and Fall,” Margaret is a young girl. Her age is alluded to in the poem's fourth line when Hopkins notes her “fresh thoughts.” In the tenth line, Hopkins directly speaks to Margaret again. This time, he doesn’t call her by her name, he addresses her as “child.” Taking these two pieces of evidence into account, as well as the innocence that Hopkins confers upon her throughout the poem, it’s reasonable to claim that Margaret is a young person—a child.

In the poem, Margaret is upset. According to the speaker, she’s grieving. Her grief relates to the changing of the seasons and the “Goldengrove unleaving.” In other words, the enchanting Fall leaves are disappearing; hence Hopkins’s idiosyncratic term unleaving.

The speaker tries to console Margaret. As she ages, Margaret will become accustomed to “such sights.” She will get used to seeing things come and go and not react with such acute emotion. Of course, she will retain some feelings, yet she will “know why” she feels the way she does. With time, she will understand that all seasons—all aspects of life—have their concomitant sadness.

In the final line, the poem appears to reveal that Margaret is grieving over more than the loss that comes with each passing season. She seems to be grieving her former self. “It is Margaret you mourn for,” the speaker tells Margaret. It’s as if Margaret is two people. At the start of the poem, she’s a child learning to adapt to the natural changes in the world. By the end, she’s an experienced person mourning her prior innocence.

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