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Here is the naked poem for you to read at one setting.  Click on the questions below and answer them on scratch-paper. Do you notice any alliteration? Patterns of repetition? Words with negative connotations? Words with positive connotations? Look for them in the poem as you read.

Spring and Fall

(to a young child)

1 Margaret, are you grieving

2 Over Goldengrove unleaving?

3 Leaves, like the things of man, you

4 With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

5 Ah! as the heart grows older

6 It will come to such sights colder

7 By and by, nor spare a sigh

8 Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

9 And yet you wíll weep and know why.

10 Now no matter, child, the name:

11 Sorrow's springs are the same.

12 Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

13 What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:

14 It is the blight man was born for,

15 It is Margaret you mourn for.


(1) Why is the poem entitled "Spring and Fall?" Is the poem about spring and fall? Or is it about something else?

(2) The poet addresses his poem "to a young child"? Who is that child? (There may be more than one possibility here.)

(3) What is Margaret crying about in the opening lines? What does she see that saddens her?

(4) What does the word "unleaving" mean? How do you know it means that? The poet makes up other non-existent words also. List them.

(5) Why are Margaret's thoughts "fresh"? What connotations does that word have instead of "innocent" or "immature" or "young"?

(6) What is strange about the phrase coming to "sights colder"? Does the word "colder" modify "sights"? Does it modify the word "heart"? Or does it modify the verb "come"?

(7) How does the speaker say Margaret will react in the future to the sight of dead plants? (trick question!)

(8) Why does the poet say that the "name" doesn't matter in line ten? Whose or what's name is he talking about?

(9) For what purpose are people born, according to the poem?

(10) What does the speaker suggest Margaret is really crying about, even though she doesn't know it?

Bonus Question: Can you explain an instance of "Sprung Rhythm" in any of the lines above?


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