Study Guide

Spring Quotes

  • Awe and Amazement

    Nothing is so beautiful as spring – (line 1)

    Notice how the speaker repeats the word "spring" even though it was just given in the title. It seems offhand, but it also makes us think a little harder about all the connotations of spring, particularly in the Christian religion: renewal and re-creation, Easter, and the resurrection of Christ.

    When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; (line 2)

    This line tells us of the speaker's deep delight in the shapes and growths of spring.

    it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing (line 5)

    Our speaker has a keen eye and ear, and an ability to be awed by things that many of us might be too distracted to even notice. (If you want to hear the thrush's song, click here.)

    that blue is all in a rush
    With richness; (lines 7-8)

    The sky is personified here, and it's as if it just can't hurry down fast enough to share its beauty. This makes the beauty sound like a gift ("richness") being given from up above, to man here on earth. Behind this line (and many others) seems to be an unspoken thanks for all the beauty that is so freely available.

  • Religion

    Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, (line 3)

    Notice how Hopkins uses the word "heaven" in this description. As the poem progresses, we come to see that this connection between heaven and earth (the availability of the heavenly on earth) is very important.

    […] they brush
    The descending blue; (line 6-7)

    The word "brush" calls to mind a paintbrush, and suggests the idea of a creator who made the world, as a painter creates a painting.

    […] the racing lambs (line 8)

    Just like the word "heavens," this allusion to something biblical is slipped in here. And were it not for the explicit references to the Garden of Eden and Christ later, we might have just thought the lambs are part of the scene, maybe adding a connotation of innocence. But we see later that the Christian connotations are deeply important: Christ as Lamb of God and Christians as sheep in God's flock.

    A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
    In Eden garden – (lines 10-11)

    Here we see that, as beautiful and joyous as spring is, it also serves as a reminder of what was lost when man was expelled from Eden. It also implies what will be lost, as the seasons change, and as the innocent kids grow up.

    Before it cloud, Christ, lord, (line 12)

    Here the poem turns into a prayer, directly addressed to Christ. It seems that the culmination of all the speaker's attention to the natural world and contemplation of Christian teachings is in a prayer, a direct communication with God.

    O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning. (line 14)

    Through this prayer, and the acknowledgment that it is God's choice, our speaker seems to return a little to the praise and triumph of the earlier lines.

  • Man and the Natural World

    When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; (line 2)

    Bringing natural ("weeds") and man-made ("wheels") imagery together sets up a subtle sense of harmony between man and nature.

    Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring (lines 3-4)

    The connection between the sound that a thrush makes and this feeling of spiritual cleansing says a lot about how the relationship between man and nature can bring man closer to a heavenly ideal. (If you want to hear the thrush's song, click here.)

    it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing; (line 5)

    Hearing a thrush sing is like being struck from above. A connection between heaven and earth is made here, with the power of the heavens being felt and expressed through nature.

    What is all this juice and all this joy? (line 9)

    Our speaker doesn't believe the natural world is something humans should just look at and say "Ooh, how pretty" and move on. Yes, it should be enjoyed and celebrated, but here he tells us that it should also be contemplated. Not only should we observe closely, but we also ought to think about what we observe and how that relates to the world (which, in our speaker's, case has a lot to do with his Christian beliefs).

  • Innocence

    "Spring" (title)

    Already, the title has set us up with ideas of innocence. We hear spring and we think of new life: flowers and baby birds and first love. (OK, maybe that last one is just us.)

    does so rinse and wring
    The ear, (lines 4-5)

    This rinsing and wringing, this making clean, also suggests innocence to us. Think about it: generally we associate sin with being dirty, and innocence with being pure and clean.

    the racing lambs (line 8)

    What's more innocent than a frolicking lamb? Their presence is like the final stamp on this scene that tells us: Certified Innocent.

    A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
    In Eden garden – (lines 10-11)

    The biblical story of the Garden of Eden is all about the loss of that original, ideal relationship between man, the rest of creation, and God. Innocence, for our speaker, is intricately bound up with his relationship with his creator and with the rest of creation.

    Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
    Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy, (lines 12-13)

    The speaker gets explicit about his concerns. He thinks it would be great if we didn't have to leave the innocence of childhood.