This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Saturday Rave: Loveliest of trees, the cherry now by AE Housman

AE Housman was born today in 1859 at Fockbury in Worcestershire.

Really, you will say, Worcestershire? But surely he's the man who wrote A Shropshire Lad

Yes, that's right, and he seems to have written most of it before he'd been to the part of Shropshire, his 'land of lost content', that's the setting for the collection.

But then AE Housman was a contradictory sort of a man. He failed his degree at Oxford yet became Kennedy Professor of Latin at Trinity College, Cambridge. He enjoyed gastronomy and flying in aeroplanes and yet was described by a colleague as 'descended from a long line of maiden aunts'. He despised laziness or sloppiness 'A textual like a dog hunting for fleas' and yet he found that sometimes his poetry appeared fully formed with no effort at all and he believed that poetry should appeal to the emotions and not the intellect.

Still, who cares. He wrote A Shropshire Lad.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Loveliest of tree, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom from bough to 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 years 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.

Word To Use Today: cherry. This word comes from the Old English ceris (a singular that was understandably mistaken for a plural, and therefore lost its s) and might go back all the way to the Greek kerasios.

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