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Spring and Fall

Spring and Fall

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Innocence Theme

"Spring and Fall" is dedicated "to a young child," so you can bet that innocence will be a major theme. Margaret, the little kid to whom the poem is addressed, begins the poem by innocently "grieving" over the falling of the leaves in the forest in the autumn. But as the poem progresses, the speaker suggests that her grief is really over a dawning realization: death is inevitable—for all of us. Dum DUM DUM!

Questions About Innocence

  1. Do you think that the "fall" referenced in the title refers to Margaret's "fall" from innocence into knowledge? Why or why not?
  2. How do you define "innocence"? Do you think children in general fit your definition? What about Margaret in this poem?
  3. Does learning about death really constitute a loss of innocence? Or is it just the development of a new kind of knowledge about the world?

Chew on This

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

Silver lining time: Learning about death doesn't necessarily have to constitute a loss of innocence—it would depend on how the child learned about death.

It's appropriate that the poem takes place in the fall, since it's about Margaret's "fall" from innocence into knowledge. (See what Hopkins did there?)

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