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 héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

–Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Margaret”

My family, with whom I’ve been living for the past couple months and on-and-off during college, has nearly finishing purchasing a new home, and although I will never reside in the new digs I’ve felt strangely affected about the prospect of leaving the house that has been my base for my entire adult life. I’m moving to Turkey in two months, and have every intention of never moving back in with my parents and siblings or depending on family for accommodation–so why is the move bothering me so much?

The lilting lines of this poem immediately leaped into my mind. It’s not the old house I am becoming melancholy for–it’s the progression of time and change in my life that I am mourning (and, I suppose, death, if you take the thought to its literary conclusion). I love that this poem nestled in my mind gave me that perspective.

P.S. If you’re looking to get into memorizing poetry, this is an ideal one to start with. Just sayin.

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