“Loveliest of Trees”

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A local cherry tree in lovely full bloom.

Living as Lou and I do near Our Nation’s Capital, we’ve experienced first-hand one of the joys of spring: the famous cherry blossoms downtown. Many times I’ve walked along the Tidal Basin under the trees’ lacy canopy and marveled at the intensity of their beauty.

Cherry trees also grace many suburban neighborhoods, including ours. As we’re a little north of D.C. and higher in altitude, our local trees extend the flowering season.

What reader, turned on to poetry as a romantic teenager, can forget the beauty of A. E. Housman’s ode that celebrates the wild cherry? This picture shows my beloved boxed copy of Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, bought so many years ago. The second poem in the collection rejoices in spring’s blooming cherry trees.  Here’s the first stanza:

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My copy of Housman’s poetry.

   

    Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

    Is hung with bloom along the bough,

    And stands about the woodland ride

    Wearing white for Eastertide.

 

 

 

Housman was writing about wild cherries, like the little black cherry in our own woods and the trees along our local “woodland ride,” the Matthew Henson Trail. The beautiful downtown or neighborhood cultivars have many more flowers per bough, of course, but I love the wild ones that decorate our springtime woodlands. I’m happy to say with the poet,

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A blooming black cherry in our woods.

 

    About the woodlands I will go,

    To see the cherry hung with snow.

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