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Spring and Fall

Spring and Fall

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Spring and Fall Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Do you think that "know why" (line 9) describes Margaret in the future, or is instead an imperative (an order)? Why? How does that change your reading of the poem?
  2. What do you think "Goldengrove" looks like? Describe it, or maybe draw a picture.
  3. How old do you think Margaret is? What about the speaker? 
  4. What do you think the relationship between the speaker and Margaret is supposed to be? Parent/daughter? Teacher/student? Older friend/friend's child? Why? And how does that shape your reading of the poem?
  5. Do you imagine this poem as being addressed to a child out loud? Or as more of an inner monologue? In other words, do you imagine a real speaker actually saying these lines to a young child, or just thinking them while watching the child weep over the fallen leaves? Why do you think so? 
  6. At 15 lines long, "Spring and Fall" is just a smidge longer than a sonnet (which is always 14 lines long). It also has a different rhyme scheme. Many of Hopkins's poems are sonnets, like "God's Grandeur" and "The Windhover." Why do you think Hopkins chose NOT to write this poem as a sonnet? 
  7. Do you think children really understand death and mortality? Why or why not?

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