Sunday, October 13, 2013


I don't know if it is a side effect from being raised in California, but I cannot go through any season without my heart aching from the transitory beauties of each one.

The ache is a funny thing: mostly a reaction to sheer beauty, but also a feeling of loss that this particular beauty will last only days, and that I can't quite revel in it enough. I can't quite soak it all in. I can't quite pay it justice by noticing it the way it should be noticed.

When I was in college, I did a lot of accompanying. I loved it, especially when I got to prepare recitals with soloists. The bread and butter of a college pianist, though, is playing for voice lessons. I learned a lot of repertoire this way (and also heard a lot of bad belting. If you haven't experienced someone learning how to belt, you should thank your lucky stars.) Some of these songs have stayed with me ever since. One in particular was George Butterworth's setting of Loveliest of Trees from A.E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad:

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.

If I take from my seventy springs, I only have twenty-eight more, and frankly, that is just not enough. I don't like thinking that I will only see the blossoms of spring that many more times, or the golden light at dusk on yellow aspens, or the sparkle of marshmallow snow under bright sun.

I admit, it is a sweet melancholy, a recognition of the gifts that each day can bring me if I just notice. I am feeling a recent shift to accepting the passage of time, which allows me to feel more peaceful about the falling of the leaves, the move into winter. But I think I will try to take Housman's advice tomorrow and the day after and head into my hills to soak in the transitory beauty.


Megan said...

This is sad...and happy.

Lisa said...

So very beautifully written...and I think I'll go into those hills with you, there is so much to see.

Lara said...

This was beautiful! John Duke's setting of "Loveliest of Trees" is one of my favorite things to sing.

I love your thoughts, and your determination to enjoy the beauty around you.