Thursday, March 25, 2010

It’s that time of year again.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

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.

Actually -- truth in blogging -- my personal middle stanza would go more like this:

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Sixty-eight will not come again,
And take from seventy springs eight and threescore,
It only leaves me a couple more.

Of course, I intend to stick around for several more decades, but my recent 69th birthday puts a whole new perspective on this year’s spring: it makes it all the more lovely. I could never see enough of the delicate, beautiful cherry blossoms -- or the dogwoods or the redbuds or the tulip trees or the flowering peaches or the Bradford pears, for that matter, and I won’t even begin to talk about the azaleas (and the rhododendrons and the mountain laurel and the forsythia and the jonquils and the narcissus and the daffodils and the phlox and the...).


  1. Gorgeous cherry tree, and lovely poem. Thanks. Our neighborhood is full of blooming Bradford Pear trees and the occasional bright pink Tulip Magnolia. I've noticed that the Flowering Quince (Japonica) bushes have more blooms and a deeper color this year; they must have liked our winter.

  2. Oh I hear ya. Time flies faster as you get older but the good news is you can stop time like I did at 23.

    Yup Time can stand still.
    You can remain 23 on jupiter cause its a larger planet and probably if you find an even bigger place where time goes slower well you can stay 23 for ever. lol

  3. Pat, I was thinking the same thing, that our more-severe-than-usual winter has given us a more-beautiful-than-usual spring.

    Lady, I checked on how long in Earth years each planet takes to complete one orbit around the sun (its "year") and the approximate figures are Mars - 2 years, Jupiter - 12 years, Saturn - 29-1/2 years, Uranus - 84 years, Neptune - 165 years, and Pluto (which is no longer classified as a planet) - 248 years. As I'm sure you know, it doesn't matter how big the planet is but how far it is from the sun. An entire Earth human lifespan equals a little over 1/4 of one Plutonian "year." In Plutonian terms, time has practically stopped. But be sure to take winter clothing!

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  5. Sorry to delete the previous post,my appalling spelling again....Lovely poem and a much needed respite from the daily barrage of bad news.

  6. I enjoyed the poems--yours and his.

  7. Hi, having tracked you down from Yorkshire Pudding's blog, I'll keep it short to avoid too many grammar mistakes ... if you like cherry blossom, and poetry, and having a snack and a drink out in the open air with friends, I hope you've heard of, and celebrate, Hanami :)
    If not, try Wikipedia. We celebrated it last year here in Catalonia with friends and bloggers, or friendly-bloggers, and really enjoyed it - this write-up is in Catalan, but the photos speak for themselves.

    Best wishes, I'll keep dropping by...

  8. With all this interest in flowers, may I assume that you are the only hippy left in Georgia?

  9. Nedine, I do what I can to help.

    Snow, even to be considered in the same sentence as A. E. Houseman is a great honor.

    Brian, thank you for commenting on my blog! In my December 9, 2007, post entitled "Travel is so broadening," I included the following paragraph:

    "Today was Noah's tenth birthday, and he had asked that the party be held at a Japanese restaurant. So eight little boys and six adults oohed and ahhed at the antics of the chef just as so many before us have done. When I asked the hostess what the name of the restaurant, Hanami, meant, she struggled to find the words in English and finally said, "when the seasons change and the flowers fall." I thought she was talking about autumn, even though she had definitely said flowers, not leaves. When I got back home, I signed onto Ye Olde Trusty Computer and asked for more information. Turns out hanami means "viewing the cherry blossoms" and is either a revered cultural event or a drunken orgy, depending on whom you ask. The nearest thing to it I can think of here in the good old U. S. of A. would have to be a combination of (a) "going to see the autumn leaves" if it happened in the spring [Note. Here in Atlanta, we do have a spring equivalent we call "looking at dogwoods and azaleas"] and (b) Mardi Gras, which is also either a revered cultural event (the day before Lent begins) or a drunken orgy, depending on whom you ask."

  10. Ok, thanks ... we went for the "cultural orgy" option - sitting under the cherry trees as a warm spring breeze blew, and the blossom gently "snowed" around us, we sat on our picnic blankets snacking on (and sharing out) homemade buns and biscuits (i.e. cookies, no?), drinking Japanese-style tea and a discreet quantity of alcoholic beverages while we all took turns to recite poetry or read extracts from novels or sing songs, all with some kind of relationship with the seasons or nature - I read, not sang, a Simon and Garfunkel song, April come she will.

  11. Yorkshire P., unfortunately I am not the only hippy left in Georgia. (Note. Actually, I am not a hippy at all, and shouldn't that have been hippie? All right, I confess to being a bit "hippy" in the anatomical sense but I am definitely not a "hippie" in the cultural sense.) The woods around here, figuratively and not so figuratively speaking, are full of hippies. They have long, unkempt beards and tend to live in old Volkswagen vans or small mobile homes that double as methamphetamine labs. One spots them occasionally in Wal-Mart.

    Brian, I read with great interest your posts from last year about the first official observance of Hanami in Catalonia. I am also quite intrigued by discovering your Catalan language, with which I was not familiar. Its history of attempted supression reminds me of Mrs. Rhymeswithplague's parents' native tongue, Albanian (Shqip, Tosk dialect), which the Ottoman Turkish Empire tried to wipe out.
    (Historical footnote: They failed.)

  12. Us sixty niners are a sentimental old lot when it comes to Spring...Here's to many more chances to laud its beauty! :)

  13. Hooray for Spring- the great metaphor!

  14. hippy = singular
    hippies = plural

    As in these sentences:-

    This afternoon, a senior Georgian citizen was mugged outside Walmart by a lone hippy.
    Back in the woods,the mugger showed several other hippies the anthology of poetry that he had stolen.

    Here endeth today's lesson.

  15. Not one to let a thread of comments die ... glad you took the time to find out about Catalonia. I'm an Englishman who moved out here at the age of 21, "found" a girl and the rest is history, he says 22 years later.
    During Franco's dictatorship (1939-75) they did try to "discourage" Catalan use, to say the least. Even now it is a struggle for the Catalans to defend the use of their language - a battle many believe will not be over till Catalonia becomes independent, but that's another story! If you're keen I can explain more, but for now I'd recommend checking out this bilingual blog, of "international Catalans" trying to keep the world informed about their reality ..

  16. Happy belated birthday.

    I do love spring blossoms so much.