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Something Wonderful: Natalie Merchant Sings Hopkins’ “Spring and Fall”

Spring and Fall: To a Young Child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás 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 wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre 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

Masterful. And definitive.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • patvann December 4, 2021, 3:55 PM

    Ohmygoodness… Oh.

  • Mike Austin December 4, 2021, 4:24 PM

    Western Civilization—that is, the only Civilization worthy of the name—is not only carried upon bayonets and the spears of hoplites, it is carried upon little ink marks upon paper, upon wood and glue, upon catgut and the baton of the conductor, upon the unearthly beauty of the female voice. What can barbarism offer in its place? The Left is a negation of the beautiful, the Holy, the decent, the honorable, the normal. Would you like to see the face of God? Then attend to Léo Delibes, Lakmé.


  • Dirk December 4, 2021, 4:46 PM

    WOW, followed her for years, I needed that, Thank You.


  • Zaphod December 5, 2021, 4:18 AM

    How masterful it was of Hopkins to use indirection. Also, if there is a God, please to strike down Sheryl Crow before she has a go at this.

    Mike Austin is hereby sentenced to be bludgeoned to death in the Agora with a representative sample of the Benin Bronzes for the crime of putting in a word for Our Team. It’s just not Cricket, you know.

    • Mike Austin December 5, 2021, 1:18 PM

      Would you accept a plea bargain?

      • Vanderleun December 5, 2021, 2:02 PM

        Prove the Trinity using simple math.

        • Mike Austin December 5, 2021, 3:46 PM

          As C . S. Lewis did: A cube contains 3 elements: a line, a point where two lines meet, and the cube itself. At no time does any element lose its singularity: the line is still a line, the point is still a point, the cube is still a cube. Yet the cube is composed of three distinct elements: the line is not a point, the point is not a cube, but the cube is all three. Patris et fili et spiritus sancti.

          • Vanderleun December 5, 2021, 9:42 PM

            1 x 1 x 1 = 1

            • Mike Austin December 6, 2021, 6:28 AM

              I should have stuck with Math and not tried Geometry. Next you’ll be asking me to prove the Resurrection.

              • John Venlet December 6, 2021, 6:51 AM

                It’s not math, but I’ve always found Jacques Ellul’s thoughts on the Trinity a solid base.

                One God in three persons. I will not take up the interminable theological discussion, which has always been astonishing to me, linked solely to an essentialist and substantialist philosophy. After all, I have a body, thought, feelings and free will, yet am I not still one, even though when I act materially this differs from when I think and am plunged into reflection? Should we not also recall that “person” comes from persona, the actor’s mask? In coming to us God puts on different masks. He is Father and Creator, Son and loving Savior, sanctifying Spirit. God assumes these modes of being so as to be grasped by human weakness and ignorance.

                Jacques Ellue, The Subversion of Christianity, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986, Reprinted July 1987, pg. 11

                • Mike Austin December 6, 2021, 7:15 AM

                  I have never struggled with the basic tenets of Christianity. When I returned to the Faith (1991) I just…believed, and had no problem doing so. I always wondered about all those theologians who labored to “prove” the Trinity, or the Resurrection, or the Atonement. Why could they not simply believe and get on with their lives?

                  “Proving” Christianity seemed to me like “proving” I had a mind. Not necessary. A waste of time. My Faith takes care of all that.

                • Vanderleun December 6, 2021, 1:45 PM

                  Holy Sonnets: Batter my heart, three-person’d God
                  BY JOHN DONNE
                  Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
                  As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
                  That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
                  Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
                  I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
                  Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
                  Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
                  But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
                  Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
                  But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
                  Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
                  Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
                  Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
                  Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

  • bob sykes December 5, 2021, 5:42 AM

    Hopkins, a Catholic priest, is one of the great poets of the English language. Yet in this rendition, Merchant’s amendations improve the scanning of the poem.

    As to Western Christian Civilization, which was (past tense emphasized) the world’s greatest civilization, it now lies in exile in Russia.

    • Miller Cross December 6, 2021, 8:41 PM

      Even after the first reading over 50 years ago, Hopkins “The Windhover” takes mornings ”dapple dawn drawn” flight and lifts the spirit.

    • Miller Cross December 6, 2021, 8:45 PM

      Even after the first reading over 50 years ago, Hopkins “The Windhover” takes mornings ”dapple dawn drawn” flight and lifts the spirit.

  • John Venlet December 5, 2021, 5:44 AM

    “For heights and depths no words can reach, music is the soul’s own speech.”

    Both Gerard’s and Mike’s musical contributions have lifted my soul to the heights, this morning. Thank you, gentlemen.

  • Ed in Upstate NY December 6, 2021, 9:14 AM

    I’ve always loved Natalie’s vocal style; she could sing the phone book to me and I’d be transported.