Spring and Fall

1749 Words7 Pages
I first came across “Spring and Fall”—as I did a similar poem, Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Say”—through two teen movies of the 1980’s. The Frost poem was featured in Copola’s adaptation of the popular S.E. Hinton young adult novel, The Outsiders, and Hopkins’ in Vision Quest, a forgettable movie about a young man searching to find himself by taking on the unbeatable state champion in a wrestling match. (Our hero beats him!) In both films, the themes of the pains and triumphs of growing up are presented in familiar formulas, and the poems lend a sense of gravity to that theme. In any case, lots of my friends in high school, who never would have read poetry otherwise, knew these poems and could recognize them, having heard them in a…show more content…
If we stress the “It,” the line still moves quickly with four trochees, leading to what we expect will be the end of the thought, an end-stopped rhyme, “colder.” Here Hopkins’ enjambs “colder” with “by and by,” thus making us move along to the next line, not stopping for a breath after “colder.” But he’s not finished there; the use of internal rhyme in line 7, “By and by” with “sigh,” creates another sound effect that invites our eyes and ears to continue on. When the pace slows down a bit, through switching back to the iambic feet of “nor spare a sigh,” this serves to set up the punch of the central line of the poem, “Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie.” I could not find “leafmeal” in the O.E.D., and later read that it was Hopkins’ own coinage . Placed as the exact middle word of the poem, “leafmeal” takes on a significant importance for both its sound quality and for its multiple meanings. Breaking it down, the words “leaf” and “leave” are valuable in this poem. These words have a number of different senses, and I wonder if Hopkins isn’t exploiting them all, getting all the meaning he can in such a short work. “Leaf” can refer to the leaves of a tree, but also to the leafing of precious metals, such as gold leafing, or the leaf from a book. Also, “meal” can be ground up grain, such as oatmeal or cornmeal, which is close to the sense we see here. In addition, it’s possible to look
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