Tropic of Rhetoric

Language and Literature at Seminole State College

Professor Kelli McBride

Sample Summary and Analysis: "Spring and Fall"








ENG 1113

ENG 1213

-Text Analysis

-Logical Fallacies

-Finding Truth



ENG/HUM 2543

ENG/HUM 2413

ENG/HUM 2433

Supplemental Readings

Copyright Kelli McBride 2003-2011

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The following summary and analysis of Hopkins' poem, "Spring and Fall," should help you understand the assignment for "Cherries" and for the Textual Analysis essay.


Spring and Fall

to a Young Child

by Gerard Manley Hopkins


MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving  
Over Goldengrove unleaving? 2
Leáves, líke the things of man, you  
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? 4
Áh! ás the heart grows older  
It will come to such sights colder 6
By and by, nor spare a sigh  
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; 8
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 12
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:  
It ís the blight man was born for, 14
It is Margaret you mourn for.  


Summary:  Click on hyperlinks for more information on components of this assignment.

In Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem, "Spring and Fall," the narrator speaks to a young girl, telling her that when she grieves for the dying of a forest, she does not realize that she is in fact grieving for her own mortality because, like the trees, humans will also wither and die. With age, though, will come the conscious understanding of what now only her soul unconsciously understands (Hopkins).



An interesting aspect of this poem is the negative connotation the narrator places on human mortality and Margaret's sadness. Though the speaker mentions "ghost" (l. 13), an allusion to the Holy Ghost, nowhere in the poem does the speaker speak of the comforting nature of the spirit, or the hope that spiritual redemption holds. Admittedly, the poem does not outright connect to a Christian tradition, but referring to the soul as a ghost seems to provide a logical link. This lack of hope and peace when contemplating mortality, "the blight man was born for" (l. 14), reflects the despair that is by-product of a life lead without some spiritual connection to a bigger picture than what this world holds.  That spiritual picture does not have to adhere to any one particular religion, but being able to accept and live with the reality that people die is vital.  Today's world seems obsessed with ignoring this fact. People spend vast sums to increase their life spans or find miracle cures.  This has lead to an explosion in what a century ago would have been called snake oil cures.  Magnets, exotic plants, and liquid forms of metals are just a few of the non-prescription remedies marketed to people who cannot accept that death comes to all.  Perhaps if people prepared themselves to accept that life will end, they would find a greater peace in living, and not spend so much time and money trying to outrun death.


Work Cited


Hopkins, Gerard Manley. "Spring and Fall." Bartleby.com: Great Books Online.

          Bartleby.com, 2011. Web. 12 June 2011.




1.  This opening constitutes the "signal-in" giving the reader the author and title information.  In MLA style, always use the author's complete name, as listed in the text, when first referring to that author. Afterwards, use only the author's last name (unless you are using works by more than one author with the same last name).


2.  In fiction, the speaker in a work is usually not the author. Instead is is either a character, like Margaret, or a narrator who is unnamed.  Since Margaret does not speak in this poem, the only one talking is the narrator. Do not refer to this person as Hopkins or the author.


3.  This is the "signal-out" giving the reader the cue that you are finished referring to the source.  Here, because the summary covers the entire poem, the citation at the end should only list the author's name and page number (for print sources). Because this is an online source, there are no page numbers to use, so we only put the last name of the author.


4.  The use of a specific word or phrase from the poem requires quotation marks followed immediately by a parenthetical notation.  If the quoted word or phrase is at the beginning or middle of a sentence, and the material following it is not summary from the poem but your ideas, you must place the signal-out immediately after the reference to the poem, not at the end of the sentence.  If you placed it at the end of the sentence, you would be communicating to the reader that all ideas in the sentence are Hopkins'.


5.  Poetry does not use page numbers to refer to information in the text. Instead, it uses line numbers. For one line, use a single lower case "L" followed by a period, then a space, and then the line number. Like this: (l. 2).  For quotes and summaries longer than one line, use double lower case "L's" followed by line numbers: (ll. 2-4).


6.  This marks the end of defining the abstract issue in the poem and building how the author presents  that issue, and the beginning of the connection to a current social issue.  You must do both.


7.  To complete the documentation process, you must include a work cited page. Note that it is WORK cited if you only have one source. It is WORKS cited if you have two or more. Formatting clarification: The title WORK CITED is underlined here because it is a hyperlink. In your papers, you do not highlight. You simply type it in title case: Work Cited.





























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