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Winter Solstice, December 21st, is fast approaching.In saying goodbye to Autumn, I’d like to pay tribute to Victorian Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, who captures both the beauty and the sadness of Fall. The narrator is speaking to Margaret, a fictional child, trying to explain to her why falling leaves make her grieve. The child will grow into an adult who will realize why she is sad at this time of year. In childhood, she remains innocent.

Autumn, the year’s demise, has its riches

 

Spring and Fall
to a young child

by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1884-1889)

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! 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 ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Despite its sombre tone, I find “Spring and Fall” beautifully uplifting. Hopkins’ brilliant invention of words such as “unleaving,” “wanwood,” and “leafmeal” is refreshing. His final line “It is Margaret you mourn for.” conveys the reality, not available to Margaret until she is older, that death is a part of life. The poem seems not as much an elegy as a call to enjoy the present. It is an invitation to cherish the ever-vanishing now, to feel the pain of mortality but to revel in its opposite, being alive.

Speaking of “being alive,” I’m finally better after a September hiking accident.This is the first day of feeling normal. I’ve adopted a new appreciation for good health, never anything to take for granted. My feline companion Mr. Chapman http://tinyurl.com/ybo4hqwl did his job well.

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Join Elaine every other Monday for reflections on adoption and life. Feedback and comments are invited. If you’d like to share a post related to the adoptee experience, on being an adoptive parent, a birthparent or seeking to adopt, let me know. Guests are welcome!

Decades of diaries became my memoir, The Goodbye Baby

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