Today’s cultural moment

It’s the birthday of English poet Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936) and American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963). In addition to sharing a birthday, they also share the distinction of having written some exceptionally lovely poems about springtime, and heaven knows we could use a little spring right about now.

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 

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

— Robert Frost 

Today is also the anniversary of the arrival in Washington, DC of three thousand Japanese cherry trees — a gift from the mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki — in 1912. First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two of the trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin on March 27, 1912. The rest of the trees were eventually planted around the Tidal Basin and in other parts of the city. The first Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 1935, and it became an annual event that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

Many of Tokyo’s cherry trees were destroyed in allied bombing raids during World War II. After the war ended, cuttings were taken from the Japanese cherry trees in Washington and sent to Tokyo to replace the trees that had been lost.

22 Responses to Today’s cultural moment

  1. L.K. Latham says:

    Nothing lovelier the poems of Spring, except Spring herself. Mine, today, is tempered a hell of a lot of yard work from the neighbors. Machines are too loud.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. atimetoshare.me says:

    I love the idea that those cherry trees destroyed in war were replaced with cuttings of the trees originally gifted by Japan to the USA

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Courtesy of BlueBird

    Liked by 4 people

  4. A lovely post. Thank you for sharing. I wonder why Housman’s name isn’t as well known as Frost and others?

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Lisa Beth says:

    Such beauty from a Bitter Bluebird! 😃Love the poem and finally so nice to see something grand in Washington!!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Marcia says:

    Lovely post, Bluebird. Thank you so much! 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I do enjoy your posts. Todays poems are especially nice. Good of us to return some trees to Japan.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. ibikenyc says:

    “. . . heaven knows we could use a little spring right about now.”

    Indeed!

    Thank you for passing some along by posting these lovely poems and the history of DC’s cherry blossoms. I’ve been hearing about them all my life but never thought about how they’d got there. Like atimetoshare.me, I love how the destroyed trees were replaced with cuttings from the originals 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. jenny_o says:

    Two lovely poems, BoB. I remember studying the first in high school, but never encountered Frost’s poem before this. I’m glad you posted both of them. It is fitting that the cuttings were returned to Japan to help replace their lost trees.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Everything here today is just what I needed. Bless you.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Em says:

    I love Housman: it’s been years. I’m glad of the revisit, and the touch of spring.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. A lovely Springtime post… I loved that they sent cuttings back to Japan to replace those lost…

    Liked by 3 people

  13. V.M.Sang says:

    Lovely spring poems. And beautiful photos, too.
    I was in New York at this time of year about 3years ago. There are also Cherry trees in Central Park that I believe were also from the Japanese government around the same time.
    It was a wonderful sight.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Wonderful, BoB! Thank you for sharing, and enjoy a beautiful Sunday! Michael

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Happy Birthday to Robert Frost and A.E. Houseman. Lovely poems. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Jennie says:

    What a wonderful post! Beautiful poetry, and a beautiful story of the Japanese cherry trees. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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