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Spring and Fall

Spring and Fall


by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Spring and Fall Theme of Death

Guess what, Shmoopers: we're all going to die. No, seriously. Not to bum you out, or anything, of course. Hopkins's "Spring and Fall" is about the moment in a child's life when she or he realizes that childhood isn't permanent and that everyone has to die someday. It's common to everyone. At least we're all in this together, right?

Questions About Death

  1. What do you think is the real reason that Margaret is "grieving" (1)? Do you agree with the speaker's assessment? Why or why not?
  2. What do you think the speaker's attitude toward death is, based on the poem? 
  3. The word "blight" (14) suggests an illness or disease. Do you think Hopkins is suggesting that death is a disease? Why or why not? What would be the implications of that?
  4. At what point do you think children usually understand death? At what age do you think you understood death?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

*Cough, cough. By describing it as a "blight" (14), Hopkins is suggesting that human mortality is a fatal illness.

The dying leaves of the trees in "Goldengrove" represent the countless human deaths occurring all the time. Major bummer.

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