The Beauty Of Spring, By Gerard Manley Hopkins

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At first, Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem, “Spring,” seems to be just about the season of spring per its title. However, in considering Hopkins’s Catholic Christian background, this poem is also about beauty and sin and their effects on nature in relation to the story in the book of Genesis about Adam and Eve. “Spring” is a Petrarchan sonnet split into an octet and sestet and is organized in such a way to allow Hopkins to discuss beauty and how it (through sin) corrupts itself and humanity personified in the season of spring and Adam and Eve, accordingly. The themes of the beauty of spring and the nature of the Garden and humanity are essential in the poet’s Christian understanding of sin and the Incarnation and Passion of Jesus Christ.…show more content…
However, in the case of this poem by Hopkins, no problem is introduced in the octet, but is in the sestet. Hopkins signifies this turn by asking a question about the nature of spring’s beauty and where it is from, just as “juice” is the characteristic flavor and essence of fruit in one meaning of the word (OED n.1.a.). Hopkins answers this question by mentioning the Christian view of “the earth’s sweet being in the beginning,” thus referring to the Garden of Eden in Genesis (10-11). As inferred by Hopkins in the first stanza and the Christian tradition which he holds, the Garden was a place of life and flourishing rather than death, and “the beginning” refers to the creation story involving Adam and Eve. Thus, according to Hopkins, the beauty of spring is identified in the sestet as a “strain” from the earth’s “sweet being in the beginning” in the Garden of Eden (10-11). Furthermore, the sestet involves a change of word choice and figurative language instead of merely a topic change. After describing where spring’s beauty arises, the poet prayerfully addresses Christ and asks him to retrieve this “strain” of spring’s beauty before it “cloy[s] / cloud[s]…and [makes] sour with sinning” the “innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy” (10-13). In this address, “cloy” refers to the potential for spring to disgust the innocence of Adam and Eve, the “innocent…girl and boy," with gratification beyond
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