So many things I’ve wanted to write, to trace their connections, to somehow combine the bits of thought together into some useful whole. But the thoughts fall and scatter and lie in disarray like the pine needles outside my window: some layered atop one another, some sticking straight up out of the grass. We raked the needles up a few weeks ago, and spread them again in flower beds. It took time, many stoppings to clean the rake of a tangle of needles; I acquired blisters at the bases of my thumbs; my back ached … Oh, writing is not for the lazy one, and I have been lazy of late. The grass of my mind is blanketed with fallen thoughts and I hardly know where to begin raking them up and moving them elsewhere, let alone burning them, as we did to the leaves we also raked from the yard.
Tonight I have neither time nor wakefulness for such a work, and so shall content myself with sharing autumnal poetry. This is the first Hopkins poem I ever read; it was printed — unlikely thing! — on the back of a Sunday school handout. I loved it, and it later became the topic of one of my first college essays. I’ll spare you — and myself — the essay, but here is the poem:
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 will 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.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins, Poems, 1918