Summarize the poem "Loveliest of Trees" by A. E. Housman. 

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A, E. Housman writes about making the most of the moment in his poem “The Loveliest of Trees.” No one will live forever, so squeeze every possible minute of the enjoyment of nature.

The setting of the poem is Easter, and spring has brought the lovely cherry trees to bloom.  The poet is riding in a carriage or on horseback  in a rural area. The narration is first person with the poet as the speaker.


The first stanza describes a beautiful scene.  The cherry trees are so covered with blossoms that the branches hang down from their bounty. 

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

The trees stand along the way as the speaker goes for a ride.  It is the perfect setting for the Easter time with the trees wearing their white.  The speaker implies a connection to the religious time and the white of the trees symbolizing the purity and innocence of Christ.

In the second stanza, we learn that the speaker is a little more than twenty years old. Of his "threescore years and ten" (seventy years--the life expectancy of man laid out in Psalms 90 of the Bible), he will only have fifty more years to enjoy the beauty of the earth.

The third stanza explains that fifty years is really not enough time to relish the beauty of the earth, the spring, and the lovely cherry trees.  Using a clever idea, he will be able to observe the cherry trees in winter as well as spring. In winter, the trees will be covered in white, but this will be snow; in spring, they are covered with the luscious white blooms. He will travel again in the woodland area to take in the beauty of the cherry trees.

The poet conveys the idea that spring does not have the monopoly on beauty for the seasons.  Each season has its own kind of glory. The fall has the leaves; the winter its snow; the summer its flowers; and the spring its green---all are a part of the landscape which in itself is a work of art.

Life is short, and travels rapidly by. The only thing a person can do is relish each moment that he has.  Be excited about life and its beauty.  Nature will go on whether one enjoys it or not.  Nature is indifferent to man and does not wait on man to enjoy its loveliness.  The speaker will appreciate the spring and the exquisite trees as long as he walks the earth. 


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