The Loveliest of Trees

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.

                                                           A.E. Housman

This is a poem which I return to each year at this time.  It is one that I memorised long ago, will recite it to you should we happen to be walking through a woodland and see the beautiful cherry blossoms at this time of year.  It sounds a simple poem, but it has a skein of melancholy running through the praise and wonder of the cherry blossoms.  The rhythm reminds the energetic movement narrator, either walking or on horseback, as he explores the glorious woodland to see ‘the cherry hung with snow’.  He probably needed to be energetic, if it was as cold a day as the one when I took these photographs!

When I have been travelling or living in other parts of the world, I have always missed the revolving seasons.  I missed seeing the tiny green shoots send their leaves up from the dark earth like tiny, defiant banners.  I missed seeing the dead-looking trees suddenly blossom with delicate flowers.  I missed the riot of daffodils which clamber up the side of the motorways, and the dense carpeting of bluebells in the woodlands.

I missed that dandelions and daisies speckle my garden at this time of year.  I missed the sudden activity of birds, busying their nests and feeding their hatchlings.  I missed the turning of the year from cold to warm and round again, split by the equinoxes and the longest and shortest days.  Spring is my favourite time of year, so much colour, so much promise.  Whatever Eliot says, April is not the cruellest month!

These photographs are not of cherries standing about a woodland ride, but are taken in Glasgow Green, the large public green space in the heart of Glasgow, by the river, given to the people of Glasgow in 1450 to graze their cattle.  Over the years, it has been home to public hangings, demonstrations, the grazing of cows and sheep, and still has a drying green for laundry.

But best of all are the cherry trees in full blossom.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Well said. I agree that warmer, indeed hotter climes have a comfortable temperature all year round, but here in Scotland we have the luxury of the range of climates (sometimes in one day). Apple blossom, cherry blossom, I don’t mind. It’s that feeling of a new beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes I love the changing seasons too, especially the ebb and flow of day-lengths. Ours is a spring garden – camellias, magnolias, peiris, bluebells as well as cherries! Helensburgh has whole streets of cherry trees!


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