Monday, January 3, 2011


                     A. E. Housman, 26 March 1859 – 30 April 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.

                                           Textual Analysis

  1. The theme of the poem.

Through the poem ‘Loveliest of Trees’, Houseman tried to underline the brevity of life against the vastness of earth and the limitless beauty that abounds in it. A time that is gone is gone forever and the time that is to come is a mere presumption. Thus, the poet wants to experience the beauty around in whatever form he happens to find. To him lifeless winter is as beautiful as lively spring.

  1. ‘...wearing white...’ what does it suggest? Why is the tree wearing white according to the poet? What does the ‘white’ symbolise?

‘Wearing white’ suggests that the tree is laden with white flower.
According to the poet the tree is wearing white as if it were celebrating Eastertide along with others to mark the resurrection of Christ.
The season being spring that is preceded by a grey winter, the ‘white’ symbolises purity of creation and triumph of life over death. 

  1. Which season does the poet talk about?

Though there are two seasons that find mention in the poem i.e. spring and winter, the poet is emphatic about spring. The two clues are:
a)      Wearing white for Eastertide ( Eastertide is celebrated in spring)
b)      Fifty springs are little room.
            Winter as the symbol of old age and death finds an implicit mention in the poem—
a) see the cherry hung with snow.

  1. How old was the poet when he wrote the poem? State the lines from the poem.

When Houseman wrote this poem he was about past twenty. The lines—

‘...Now, of my threescore years and ten
    Twenty will not come again...’ suggest this assumption.

  1. ‘And take from my seventy spring a score
It leaves me only fifty more...’ why does the poet say so?

Being a profound scholar, Houseman has alluded to the Bible which says that a man is supposed to live only seventy years. This actually means that one’s life is worthy living till one is seventy. To the poet this little span of seventy years is too brief a moment to relish the beauty that abounds the earth.
In a nutshell, the poet here laments the brevity of life against overwhelming beauty of nature.

  1. Has the poet expressed any desire? What and Why?

Life being too short a time, the poet wants to live through all beautiful things that surround him. Having seen the beauty of the cherry tree in spring, he longs to see it again in winter.
 ‘About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow...’
The poet so desired because to him winter is as beautiful as spring.

  1. What mood does the poet express?

Lamenting about the brevity of life against enormous stretch of beauty on earth, the poet expresses a poignant and melancholy mood.
Please feel free to write should you need any further help related to this Poem.


Unknown said...

i am not understanding the meaning of this poem.plz help me.

MJ said...

thanks a lot 4 your analysis in housman's poem....

MJ said...

thanks a lot 4 your analysis in housman's poem.