Language and tone in Spring and Fall

Language and voice

  • the poem is written in couplets as a lyric in sprung rhythm. Each line basically has four stresses (i.e. a tetrameter), apart from the last line, which only has three stresses
  • Hopkins marks a number of the stresses, sometimes a little oddly, as in ‘Ah! ás..'. This would more naturally be read as only a three-stress (trimeter) line
  • there are the other usual features of Hopkins' poetry, too: compound epithets, alliterations and some internal rhymes
  • ‘Goldengrove' is a striking epithet, as is ‘wanwood' which contains layers of meaning
  • ‘worlds of wanwood' is an effective image for a sad world
  • the poetic devices make the poem idiosyncratic yet charming. It has a gentle sadness, very different to the despair Hopkins was to experience a few short years later.
Investigating Spring and Fall
  • What meanings can you find in the compound epithets ‘Goldengrove', ‘wanwood', ‘leafmeal'?
  • Can you reconcile the phrases ‘yet you will weep and know why' with ‘nor ghost guessed'?
  • Is there anything in particular that you find appealing in the poem?
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.