Hemingway and Housman on Springtime

We’ve had gale-force winds and  morning temps in the high 30s for a couple days now,  forcing me to hold off on planting the tomatoes. Shivering through my walk this morning, I thought of Hemingway’s great lines from A Moveable Feast:

With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rain would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. . . When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.

Life had seemed so simple that morning when I had wakened and found the false spring. . .

But the pear trees and the azaleas are blooming.  They’re predicting 75 degrees later today and lows in the 50s throughout the weekend, so I do think that we’ve seen winter’s last blast. Time to celebrate spring,  and that means the annual reading of A. E. Housman’s “Loveliest of Trees.”  I read this poem for the first time as a college sophomore, not quite the age of the narrator. It has  never lost its simple,  poignant beauty.


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



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