|Photo courtesy of Micha Sankowski of Warsaw, Poland|
Wrestling tournaments and minor disasters have temporarily delayed my poems-by-heart project. So I've decided to shift to one a week, reciting all I've learned so far every day to review. The first poem I learned was this one, an old favorite by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I knew it fairly well already...
Spring and Fall
to a young child
I found this one quite easy to memorize aside from the compression of "Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed / What heart heard of, ghost guessed." And the way that I managed that was to remember to move from "springs" to "mouth" (as of a spring.) Then I had a little trouble wanting to swap "mind" and "heart," but alliteration is a great help there, as "mouth" and "mind" are bracketed together by sound, as well as "heart heard."
There are some things I like especially well about this poem: the strong, sonnet-like ending, the Anglo-Saxon influence on alliterative line structure and words that resemble kennings (wanwood, leafmeal, Goldengrove); the constriction and knottiness of syntax that comes at the same time that revelation approaches; the many meanings circling spring/springs and leaving/leaves. I like the way that the poem questions and doubts language, showing us that the word death, say, doesn't matter because all sorrows have the same springs--in fact, heart and spirit are quick to know more than mind and its words.
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Addendum: Still wondering whether this sort of post is desirable--the internet makes me grasp how few non-poets care about poetry in English these days. Although I note that Iris the "interactive semi-conscious AI" seems to like Wallace Stevens. If you have an opinion, please say so!