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Vocabulary in Loveliest of Trees

Vocabulary Examples in Loveliest of Trees:

Text of the Poem

🔒 8

"only..."   (Text of the Poem)

The adverb “only” creates a sense of termination, of finality. This serves as an indication that although the speaker believes he has fifty years left, a large number by most measurements, they still are not enough for what he wants to experience.

"ride..."   (Text of the Poem)

In this context, the noun “ride” refers to a path or track that has been made for traveling by carriage or on horseback. This word also subtly indicates movement, possibly on the part of the speaker as he walks through the woods admiring the cherry trees.

"Loveliest..."   (Text of the Poem)

This is the superlative form of the adjective “love.” When an adjective takes this form, it indicates that there is nothing that can compare with its particular quality; it is the exemplary form. For many poets and writers, the subject of loveliness or beauty has been explored through mortality or transience. Housman follows suit in this poem by choosing the cherry as the “loveliest of trees” because their flowering season is very short, emphasizing this idea of beauty as passing.

"Eastertide..."   (Text of the Poem)

In the Christian tradition, “Eastertide” lasts from Easter Sunday at the beginning of April to Pentecost, seven Sundays after Easter. The reference to Easter suggests the speaker’s Christian backdrop and hints at the Biblical connotations of the following line. However, notice that the speaker never contemplates the afterlife or God as he contemplates beauty and mortality.

"things..."   (Text of the Poem)

The speaker uses the word “things,” objects that one need not or cannot give a specific name to, in order to emphasize the many things he must pay attention to and has not yet experienced. The speaker uses the word “things” to remind readers that there is so much to observe in the world in bloom, and that they must keep their eyes open to everything.

"score..."   (Text of the Poem)

Remember that “score” means 20, much like modern speakers might say dozen instead of 12. The speaker is reiterating his projected length of life, 70 years (“seventy springs), and subtracting the 20 that he has already lived to arrive at the conclusion that he will only see 50 more springtimes.

"will not come again..."   (Text of the Poem)

When read with the preceding line, “twenty” is a measurement of age. The speaker is stating that of his total 70 years, he has already lived 20. That it “will not come again” suggests that he is over 20, or that his 20th year has passed.

"threescore..."   (Text of the Poem)

The noun “score” in this context means a period of twenty years. So, “threescore” is 60 years, onto which the speaker adds 10. In this line, the speaker takes possession of these years with the possessive pronoun “my.” The line can therefore be read as the speaker’s prediction that he will live 70 years.

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