Sunday 19 April 2020

Loveliest of Trees...

Well, this makes a welcome change from all those NHS rainbows – A.E. Housman's great poem of springtime (and, of course, death), taped to a bench amid the cherry trees in a local park.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

When J.L. Carr was headmaster of Highfields Primary School in Kettering, he used to march his pupils through the nearby council estate (home to many of them) in cherry blossom time, declaiming Housman's poem in unison. 
Perhaps I should print something out myself and do my bit for spreading good seasonal poetry... But what?


  1. Nige: I would respectfully suggest this (which I am certain you know quite well): "The trees are coming into leaf/Like something almost being said," it begins, and ends: "Last year is dead, they seem to say,/Begin afresh, afresh, afresh." Lovely to revisit every year, but perhaps more so this year. Yes, "begin afresh, afresh, afresh."

  2. Oh yes – thanks so much, Stephen. That would fit the bill perfectly – especially, as you say, this year.
    Yet still the unresting castles thresh
    In fullgrown thickness every May...

  3. Here's one you may not know, Nige. I've never been able to memorize the whole thing, but this time of year especially, many phrases, and even long stretches, of it run through my head. Hope you enjoy:,_Charles-1910/Variations_Done_for_Gerald_Van_De_Wiele*?interfaceLang=en

  4. Thanks Baceseras – I had never come across that one before.