AD's English Literature : Analysis of Alfred Edward Housman's "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now"

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Analysis of Alfred Edward Housman's "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now"


 
Loveliest of Trees
Alfred Edward 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.

Alfred Edward Housman is best known nature poet remarkable for his simple diction, lyric beauty, and gentle, ironic pessimism. Set in the English countryside, the poem Loveliest of Trees expresses rejoice and frolic of young poet. The theme of fleeting youth, as in the famous poem “When I Was One and Twenty” is also incorporated here. The eternity of nature beauty is here contrasted with the earthly passage of youth and broadly, life. In technique the poem combines elements of the classical ode and the English ballad.

 courtesy: greensborogardens
The poet sees the Loveliest of cherry trees with bloom along the bough. The poet saw the “loveliest of trees” in spring. The tree is wearing white in order to join the celebration of holy Easter festival.  Housman considers the cherry-tree as the loveliest of trees. The beauty of the cherry-tree in full bloom stands about the woodland path fills his heart with great delight. ‘White’ signifies peace and purity.  Standing about the woodland ride the poet looks at them Wearing white in purity of Eastertide:
“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide”

To enjoy such a serene scene the poet thinks that fifty springs are not sufficient stating Horace’s "Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.” . When the poet saw ‘the loveliest of trees’ he was twenty. According to the poet, is the normal span of human life is Seventy years. According to the Bible, a man lives about seventy years in this world. The poet is referring to this age of him. Thee score and ten years mean seventy years:
“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.”

The poet says that fifty years is a little room to enjoy the beauties of nature. Therefore, he would go to the jungle. There he would be able to see many things within the little available time. The poet says that man`s life is too short to enjoy the beauties of nature. Here cherry stands for the beauty of nature. The poet wants to enjoy the beauty of nature in the short period of his life. The cherry is in full bloom. It is covered with white flowers. It seems to be dressed up for Easter. As it looks very beautiful, the poet calls it the loveliest of trees. The poet says that fifty years are a little period to look at the things in bloom. However, one can not miss the woodland as if in Frost’s Snowy Evening, a journey to the wonder world of infinity. The individuality and quality of nature works upon everybody and such is  widely appreciated in Loveliest of Trees. Again, Man’s span of life is very short for enjoying the endless beauty of nature. So a man must not waste a single moment of his life. He should make haste and go out to enjoy the lovely things of Nature, such as the cherry tree in bloom with the ever enjoyed form of beauty- be it spring, summer or winter.


Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert, 
      2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
3.Alfred Edward Housman's Poetry: B. N. Sabu
 

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