I was in 3rd Year High School when Ms. Cruz, my Literature teacher, introduced this to our class. I still remember where I sat (near the door, my head tilted left to see her fully) and how I listened (always, always with eyes of wonder and a mind of wander) and how she read it so magically (with a singsong hush, the words tenderly drifting from her motherly mouth, in waves).
At first I thought she was reading to us a lullaby. “Margaret, are you grieving?” I was expecting consolation in the succeeding lines but the leaves simply kept falling. “Ah! As the heart grows older / It will come to such sights colder.” Yet the sound the words made in my ears seemed to swirl gently, even if their message stabbed me. Gerard Manly Hopkins’ words that mellifluously sing “sórrow’s spríngs áre the same” make a disconsolate truth sound comforting. And sometimes, that’s all we can do, turn what is horrible into beauty, make an art of hurt.
Spring and Fall
Gerard Manly Hopkins
Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.