Kenneth Lonergan talks about “Margaret” and the Hopkins poem that inspired the title on Fresh Air
“Spring and Fall” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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?
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 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
Lonergan talked about “Margaret” and this poem on Fresh Air today. Here’s a excerpt.
The title of the film comes from a poem entitled “Spring and Fall: To a Young Child," which Lonergan’s mentor Patricia Broderick gave him a long time ago. (She happens to be the mother of Matthew Broderick, who plays Lisa’s teacher in the film, and reads the poem aloud to Lisa’s class; Margaret is referred to within the poem.)
"It’s one of the poems I know by heart," says Lonergan. "And the idea of putting the poem in struck me as right. And as soon as I did that, I knew it should be called Margaret, because the poem is so appropriate to the situation that the girl finds herself in, and that we all find ourselves in — which is this shocking realization and sensitivity to death and things changing, and then, as the poem says, ‘As the heart grows older, it will come to such sights colder by and by.’ And it seemed so [right] for what was going on with Anna Paquin’s character internally."
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