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Spring and Fall

Spring and Fall

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Lines 5-7 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 5-7

Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh

  • The speaker says that Margaret won't react with the same kind of sympathy when she gets older. 
  • Of course, it's not Margaret that's mentioned, but "the heart." This is just using a part of the body (where we tend to think that emotion lives) to represent the whole of the person and his or her attitude. That whole using-the-part-to-mean-the-whole trick? It's called synecdoche
  • In any case, what the speaker really means is that Margaret the person will, as she ages, become "colder" to "sights" like the leaves falling from trees. 
  • The speaker is probably right—after all, how many adults do you know who get all weepy-eyed every time they see a tree losing its leaves?
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