Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now

A Shropshire Lad 2 Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now

by A. E. 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.

Summary of Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now

  • Popularity of “Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now” The poem was written by A.E Housman, a great English scholar and poet. ‘Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now’ is one of his best compositions about beauty and regret. It was first published in 1896 in A Shropshire Lad. The poem speaks about the unmatchable beauty of the Cherry trees that mesmerizes the speakers. It also illustrates how he feels sorry for the time he spends without enjoying the glories of enchanting nature.
  • “Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now” As a Representative of Nature: The poem centers upon the matchless beauty of the cherry trees. The writer begins describing the cherries hanging along the boughs. They beautifully stand in the middle of the woodland and, to him, their white color reminds him of Easter Sunday, or the day Jesus was resurrected. Enthralled by the bounty of nature, he starts thinking about his mortality, believing he is only going to live for seventy years. At twenty, he realizes that twenty years of his life are gone without enjoying the bliss of nature and he has fifty years left. He realizes that fifty years are not enough to adore the glories of Cherry trees. Hence, he decides to enjoy the beauty of the natural world as long as he can.
  • Major Themes in “Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now” Transience of life, pastoral beauty, death and fleeting nature of time are the major themes of this poem. The speaker reflects on the lovely sights of Cherry trees he witnesses along the road in woodland. The beauty and purity of that sight make him think of his transient life. He, at once, starts calculating the estimated years of his life which results in sorrow. He realizes that twenty springs of his life have gone and will never come back. Therefore, he determines to enjoy this charm in the remaining years of his life. It is through this piece, the poet talks about the fleeting nature of time which constantly ticks away and we cannot hold it. Therefore, as mortal beings, we should avail ourselves every chance to enjoy the blessings of God.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now”

Literary devices are tools that the writers use to enhance the intended impacts of their writings. Their appropriate use connects the readers and enables them to interpret the writer’s message. A.E. Houseman has also used a few literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /ee/ in ‘Loveliest of trees, the cherry now’ and the sound of /oo/ in ‘And since to look at things in bloom’.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /w/ in ‘Wearing white for Eastertide’.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /n/ in ‘And stands about the woodland ride’ and the sound of /s/ in ‘Now, of my threescore years and ten’.
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it continues in the next line. For example,

“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.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Is hung with bloom along the bough”, “About the woodlands I will go” and “Wearing white for Eastertide.”
  2. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. Cherry trees are a symbol of the fleeting nature of time.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “now/bough”, “score/more”, “go/snow” and “bloom/room.”
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is s quatrain.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme in all the stanzas
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, each comprising four lines.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful while talking about the immortal nature of mankind. These are helpful to illustrate that the spinning wheel of time will never allow us to bring back the moments we have spent.

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.”