Saturday, April 22, 2006

Spring and Fall

Spring and Fall: To A Young Child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as 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 will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins
. . . and no matter how many times I read, or hear, this poem, I am at once saddened, and made happier.

The learned professor who included this poem in our anthology that year told us that there was only one correct interpretation of any poem. I knew on that first day that he was either stupid, insane, or a liar. He was, most unfortunately, merely stupid: the one of the three for which there is no cure. My class was quick to point out his very pompous and dictatorial errors, but for those students who didn't, or didn't know how to, I have a bad feeling that poetry, for them, means nothing but what this man told them it meant.

According to Professor Alucard, this poem is telling us that life sucks, and when you try to analyze it, it only sucks harder.

According to me, this poem is telling us that there is always hope, and that there is always another beginning, and that no matter what we are losing, we are also gaining something in its place.

But what did I know? I was eighteen, and he was elderly unto the point of near-death, possibly even in his late forties or thereabouts. You know, ANCIENT.

He was condescending and bombastic, and he walked into the lecture hall like someone who was doing his duty but totally wasting his talents. which, of course, he was. He would have been much better suited giving eulogies for total strangers at mortuary services.

Many people, if asked, will tell us that they hate poetry. These same people, however, will tell us that they love to sing, that they love music.

Do they not realize that without the melody, they are loving a poem? Please don't judge poetry by the usually very bad selections found in typical textbooks. Don't take anybody else's word about whether a poem is good or not.

True poetry is a living, breathing entity. Like people. And, like people, we must not expect to adore, respect, endure, like, or love every single one. We are selective when we choose our friends. It is so with poetry.

Then, too, we sometimes find that after years of dislike, a person can somehow begin to LIKE a person. It is that way with a poem, too.

Give each person poem a chance, yourself. If you don't like it, set it aside and try another one.

Take your favorite songs and look only at the lyrics. Lyrics are poems, dudes.

Life can be so very, very hard. Bad things happen. But those bad things will eventually be over, and even though the memories linger, the terrible pain will pass.

We will weep and we will know why. We will weep and NOT know why, sometimes.

It is ourselves we mourn for, you see.

Be of good cheer. This, too, shall pass.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:07 PM | |


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