Commentary on Spring and Fall


If there is uncertainty after several readings as to what the poem means, a good paraphrase can be found in W.H.Gardner's book on Hopkins, (see Resources and further reading), in Vol.2, p.309. Lines like:

"Léaves líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?"

have a word-order, words and thoughts beyond a child's understanding, however simple the line appears. Even placing a stress on ‘like' seems unnatural, as well as the enjambement to obtain the strange rhyme ‘man, you/can you?' And although the title includes the term ‘Spring', making us anticipate some reference to that season, the only spring mentioned is in ‘sorrow's springs', meaning ‘sources'.

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