Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now

by A. E. Housman

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Student Question

How is "Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now" considered philosophical poetry?

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The philosophy underlying A. E. Housman's deceptively simple poem might be summed up as "carpe diem," or seize the day. The poem, narrated by a 20-year-old, dwells on how fleeting or ephemeral life is. The narrator looks at the bloom of a beautiful cherry bough and reflects that, since he is expecting to live to 70, he only has 50 springtimes left to enjoy the beauty of the cherry bough. That is not much time, he notes, to grasp and drink in all the beauty it offers. The poem says we need to live life to fullest while we have it because it goes by far too fast. The narrator ends the poem by saying he will take the time to enjoy the cherry bough while he can. The cherry bough represents all the small beauties and joys in the world that we can too easily miss by not seizing the day.

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