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by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Spring Theme of Innocence

The natural imagery in "Spring," as well as the religious concerns surrounding the Garden of Eden, are centered on the idea of innocence. The loss of innocence – both in man's expulsion from Eden, and also currently, in children around the world – could be called the main fear or source of tension in the poem. Through the renewal of spring and its religious associations with the resurrection of Christ, there is also perhaps a hint of salvation from this seemingly inevitable loss.

Questions About Innocence

  1. What is it that makes our speaker think suddenly about young children in line 13? Has the poem been about the innocence of children all along?
  2. Is our speaker innocent? What can we infer about his relationship about his relationship to sin?
  3. Is our speaker's depiction of this spring landscape too innocent to be considered real? Shouldn't there be a snake eating the thrush eggs, or at least a cloud somewhere in the sky? Does he sacrifice a realistic depiction of the complexities of spring in order to make the connection to the biblical Garden of Eden more clear?

Chew on This

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

Since all of our speaker's representations of innocence – spring, lambs, children – are temporary states (seasons change, lambs and children grow into adults), it is clear that, despite his prayer, our speaker knows that the loss of innocence is inevitable.

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