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Literary Critic: To a Young Child Poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89). Poems 1918

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English: 320

May 16, 2005

Literary Critic: To a young child Poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89). Poems 1918

MÐ'RGARЙT, бre you grнeving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leбves, lнke the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ð'h! бs the heart grows older 5

It will come to such sights colder By and by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you wнll weep and know why.

Now no matter, child, the name: 10

Sуrrow's sprнngs бre the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It нs the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was an innovator whose poetry was not published until decades after his death. Hopkins was born in Stratford, Essex, which is near London. He attended Balliol College, University of Oxford. While attending the university, Hopkins was sporadically occupied with verse writing. His passion for religion becomes clearly evident during this time through his poems. His poems revealed a very Catholic character, most of them being abortive, the beginnings of things, ruins and wrecks, as he called them. (Gardner 6) In 1866, he converted to Roman Catholicism, during the Oxford movement. John Henry Newman received him into the Roman Catholic Church. He left Oxford to become a priest, and entered the Jesuit Order in 1868. This is the time when Gerard Manley Hopkins presented a conflict of a man torn between two vocations, religion and the aesthetic world. He also presented a heroic struggle of a man who was so dedicated to one profession that he deliberately sacrificed another profession based on the belief that God willed it to be so.

Hopkins is well known for his creation of the term inscape. Inscape can be considered as an individual distinctive beauty. The sensation of inscape, any vivid mental image, is known as instress. (Gardner 11) For Hopkins, inscape was more than sensory impression. It was an insight; by Divine grace into an ultimate reality by seeing the pattern, air, and melody as it were God's side. (Gardner 27) In "Spring and Fall", Hopkins demonstrates a separation between humanity and nature and a separation between humanity and God. His use of imagery and his sympathetic tone allows the readers to make both distinctions and similarities between adult and child, nature and man, and conscious and intuitive knowledge.

The poem is addressed to a child. It has a direct clarity of rhyme, which it almost sounds like a nursery rhyme. The speaker addresses the child, trying to understand how she thinks and feels. "Ma'gare't, are you gri'eving / Over Goldengrove unleaving?" (Lines 1-2 Norton) It seems as though the speaker is attempting to meet the child on her terms by using this diction. He is implicitly making the connection between the turning of the seasons and death. While the turning of the season will bring a new spring, human seasons will bring a final departure and final "fall" (Ellis 151). The next two couplets imply that his knowledge of man is more important and melancholy than the falling of the leaves. "Lea'ves, like the things of man, you / with your fresh thoughts care for, can you?" (Lines 3-4

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