Spring and Fall

Original Text: 
The Later Poetic Manuscripts of Gerard Manley Hopkins in Facsimile, ed. Norman H. MacKenzie (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1991): 217. PR 4803 H44A6 1991 Robarts Library
to a young child
3Leaves, like the things of man, you
5Ah! as the heart grows older
7By & by, nor spare a sigh
9And yet you wíll weep & know why.
10Now no matter, child, the name:
12Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
14It is the blight man was born for,
15It is Margaret you mourn for.


1] Hopkins wrote this poem as he walked from Lydiate to the train forLiverpool (White). He wrote Robert Bridges that it was "a little piece composed since I began this letter [Sept. 5],not founded on any real incident. I am not well satisfied with it" (Letters, I, 109). Back to Line
2] Goldengrove: capitalized, as a place name. GoldenGrove, Carmarthenshire (Wales), is about three hours south of Liverpool, and was the estate of Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), an Anglican bishop who wrote a manual of daily prayers, The Golden Grove (1655). Closer to Hopkins' regular home in Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, and more appropriate to the theme in Hopkins' poem, is the Golden Grove at Llanasa, Flintshire, a great house from the Elizabethan period that rests in a thousand acres of great trees and pastures. unleaving: letting fall its leaves, "unleafing." There may be a play on the sense, "not departing from" (i.e., that Margaret must stay in Goldengrove in its present state). Back to Line
4] fresh: newly experienced, youthful. Back to Line
6] colder: with less emotion. Back to Line
8] wanwood leafmeal: dark forest (Old English "wann"; possibly our "wan," `pale and tired'), with all its leaves on the ground, "piecemeal." Back to Line
11] springs: origins; playing on tears (cf. 9 "weep"). the same: all one. Back to Line
13] ghóst: soul. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1996-2000.