Friday, April 2, 2010

April is National Poetry Month

I believe poetry should be honored twelve months around.  But if the nation will have its way and pick one month for this purpose,  then April is an excellent choice.
Think of the poems that ponder the mysteries and virtues of April, the first full month of Spring.

The dour T S Eliot begins The Wasteland:

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Then the famous poem by Robert Browning that begins:

O to be in England
now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in england
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brush-wood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!

Edna St Vincent Millay wrote a couple of poems centered on April.  Here is the first stanza of her poem titled Song of a Second April:

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

Then we have her wonderful poem titled Spring:

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only underground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

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