Guardian of Verse: Mystery Samaritan Sprinkles Poetry in Riverside Park

Much to the delight of Upper West Siders, someone has once again tied copies of a famous cherry tree poem to the flowering trees, fences, and park benches along a scenic stretch of Riverside Park just south of W. 95th Street this spring. The identity of the literary good samaritan seems to be a mystery.

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The three-stanza poem, “Loveliest of trees, the cherry now….” was written by British poet A. E. Housman. Copies seemingly magically appear in the park every spring as the boughs of the fruit trees start blossoming with fresh tufts of color. They’re printed on simple white paper, laminated to protect them from the weather.

The first stanza reads:

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.”

“This is a thank you note. For many years I have been silently thankful to the anonymous person who hangs copies of the A.E. Housman poem, Loveliest of Trees, around the orchard in Riverside Park,” an admirer wrote on social media site NextDoor. “Everything about the gesture is thoughtful: the easily-readable but elegant font, the ribbons chosen for placement on trees and benches, the plastic sleeves for weather-protection, and the gentle nudge to the heart of the poem itself. Please thank this person for me and let them know that they do for me what ramps, robin redbreasts, and after-work sunsets do for others: welcome spring.”

Another local fan of the anonymous poem-hanger agreed, writing, “I feel like spring is truly here when the poems go up! One of those ‘I love New York so much’ moments.”

The poem is part of Housman’s “A Shropshire Lad” series of 63 poems he wrote in London in the late 19th century.


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  1. Linda April 6, 2024
  2. Leave me my tree. April 6, 2024
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  4. Richard Friedman April 6, 2024
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