Archive for the ‘Housman’ Category

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.

There are two trees in front of my across-the-street neighbors that are completely covered in white at the moment.  They are not cherry trees (I have no idea what they are), but the loveliness of them sooths my heart and makes me glad to live where I do, to be alive at this moment seeing the white glowing under the bright sunshine against the blue of the springtime sky.  This poem captures so beautifully the sweet satisfaction and wonder of witnessing something so gratuitously beautiful.  This is part of its enduring charm, and part of why it is consistently included in anthologies and textbooks, making it widely known even in our poetry-phobic world.

This poem is also an example of rhyme done right.  I have read too many poems (and written too many too) in which the rhyme scheme is forced and artificial.  The poem becomes written for the rhyme, rather than the rhyme supporting the poem.  In my opinion conventions like rhyme and meter should be almost invisible.  They should disappear into the poem, reinforcing the theme and structure, but so unobtrusively that it seems that the lines end with a particular word because that is the word it naturally should end with, not because it fits into a rhyme scheme.  For me, that is the mark of a truly successful rhyme scheme, and it awes and impresses me the way a really well-done Lindy swingout only impresses other Lindy dancers.  This poem impresses me no end.


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