About the Poet

A.E. Housman (1859-1936) studied at oxford and published learned articles on classical authors. He spent his life teaching and editing the works of a minor roman poet. He also wrote scholarly reviews. His poems are In three separate volumes written between 1895 and 1905.

His poems express simple, universal emotions –love of nature, nostalgia for the past, the pathos of man’s brief existence—in sense and narratives that are easy to understand. His style is derived from the old ballads and from classical poetry.

Together with his pessimism and irony, which can be savage, the formal qualities of his style keep his intense emotion from seeming sentimental.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Easter tide.

Now, of my three score 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 woodland I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

                                                                                (A.E. Housman)

Theme

The beauty of nature, especially of cherry is captivating. But life is too short to relish it. Even fifty years are not enough time to enjoy it fully. The poet says that one should not miss any chance of enjoying the bloom of the ‘loveliest of trees’, the cherry, in the woods in all seasone.

Paraphrase

Cherry, which is the loveliest of the trees, is now in full bloom and its branches are bending down loaded with flowers. It stands along the path in the woods and is all covered in snow. According to the poet’s expression the cherry stands in a white dress in preparation for the celebration of Easter.

The poet says that out of the seventy years of his life, the early twenty years of age will never come again. The rest of his life of fifty years, he claims to have enjoyed  the beauty of cherry blossom.

Sine fifty years are not long enough to enjoy the beauty of the spring, coloured and flavored by the glory of cherry, the poet will avail every chance to go to the woodland to see the exotic beauty of the cherry tree whose flowery boughs are hanging down with snow.

Glossary

Hung with bloom Loaded with flowers
Easter Anniversary of the resurrection of Christ, observed on the first Sunday after a full moon on or after 21 March.
Three score years and ten Three sets of twenty and ten are equal to seventy years.
Little room Short life.