Loveliest of trees the cherry now

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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, A Shropshire Lad.  1896

Our lovely old specimen of Prunus serrulata is looking beautiful and I was reminded of that famous Housman poem. Although Housmen is very much associated with the First World War,  A Shropshire Lad was actually written quite some time before.

In the late 19th Century the biblical “three score years and ten” was above average life expectancy. Today I’m sure I saw more who were of four score years enjoying the blossom than those of just a score.

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2 Comments

  1. Drew McNaughton

    Drew McNaughton

    Hi Roger,

    Thanks for posting the poem and the info about the cherry. On the subject of poets of the First World War, I have a theory, which after having discussed it with knowledgable Botanics people I feel is very likely, that Wilfred Owen would have visited the botanic garden during his stay at Craiglockhart Hospital.

  2. Norman Gould

    Having passed three score years and ten this was the year for planting the rose ‘ Shropshire Lad’. Looking down the garden I wonder how it compares with Houseman’s cherry blossom. Like the cherry blossom it will be quite transient quite unlike the Tower of London poppies in my Spathiphyllum peace plant which little doubt will look just the same when Remembrance Day comes round again.

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