Friday, March 28, 2008

Poetry Friday -- Pay Attention

It was A.E. Housman's birthday this week (Robert Frost's, too). It usually takes the sight of blooming trees to remind me of this poem. No blooms yet here.

I have more than doubled the age of the speaker of the poem at this point, but I still have hopes that I'll be able to watch spring come fifty more times. Forty more for sure.

Because there is no "for sure," no way of knowing how many more springs one has, this poem reminds me every year to pay attention as if this might be the last.

Loveliest Of Trees, The Cherry Now
by A. E. Housman

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.

Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry column featured another (modern) blooming cherry tree poem this week, by Judith Harris. Here is the last stanza:

It is only April.
I can't stop my own life
from hurrying by.
The moon, already pacing.

The roundup today is at Cuentecitos.


  1. I think what reminds me the MOST to stop and admire Spring is that it's so slow in coming this year. It seems to be the LONGEST winter on record. Ugh. I do love that Housman poem, though and look forward to celebrating blooming trees soon...

  2. I turned around, and Spring came. Overnight, trees are in full bloom. Wait! Wait! I want to yell. Not so fast!

  3. Another spring is here. Funny how autumn puts me more into a "time reckoning" mood than spring does.

  4. I remember reading that Housman poem in college. It is just as lovely but more poignant now, thirty years later. I better get outside and see some cherry trees!

  5. This is one of those poems that catches me unawares every time I read it. I think it sneaks up on me so well because it makes me stop and do math at the start . . .

  6. I'm racking my brain trying to figure out why I hear gentle music when I read Housman... I think this poem is on my daughter's 'Baby Shakespeare' video. Which she's outgrown. Which only enhances the time reckoning.

    Come, spring...


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