Monday, April 18, 2016

Threescore and Ten Again*

Magnolia Blossoms & Panama Bag in Washington, DC,
Spring Break 2004

Thanks to my friend Elizabeth who shared with me her file of musical settings for a variety of poems, primarily 19th and 20th Century, and primarily about trees (e.g., "The Three Trees") -- a musical and literary theme so perfect for April, with all the flowering trees bursting forth, and Earth Day and Arbor Day soon approaching.

I particularly enjoyed selections by Emily Dickinson / Aaron Copeland, Robert Frost / Randall Thompson, and "Loveliest of Trees" by A. E. Houseman / John Duke.

More good news about this poem -- you can find these blossoms not only on the "woodland ride" but also along the city streets; not only when twenty years won't come again and you're left with a mere fifty or so springs, but also when the numbers are reversed. So, don't despair! The above photo, for example, was taken twelve springs ago! So many blooms we've seen since then!

Even if "of your threescore years and ten, fifty (or sixty!) will not come again," that still leaves you with ten or twenty springs (if you're lucky -- even more if you're luckier!) to go about the woodlands or the urban gardens and "see the cherry hung with snow."

In our case, that "snow" could be a metaphor for cherry blossoms, or it could be the real thing -- yes, even in April (right, Cate?!). Either way, get out and enjoy that walk . . . time's a - wastin'!

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.


A. E. Houseman (1859 - 1936)

Climbing the "Snowy" Hills of Seattle

* See also last week's post:
Threescore and Ten
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten;
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labour and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."
~ Psalm 90:10 (KJV) ~

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