Cruel April’s Fool

Welcome to National Poetry Month!  Dedicating April to poetry is a great way to remind us to enjoy the wealth of poetry we can turn to for sustenance.

One of best known poems of the early 20th century is T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land.”  The first few words, “April is the cruellest month,” have become part of the language, even if many people don’t recognize where they come from.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept
us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with
dried tubers.

When you read the second part, about how winter kept us blanketed in forgetfulness, it comes clear why April which awakens us to life by stirring both our memories and our desires, can be seen as cruel.

I’ve never been one to like being kept in the haze of winter as I delight in that which flourishes when the spring rain nourishes those “dull roots.”  Sometimes what grows is dangerous or sad, but I’m willing to take that risk. In some ways, I’m just a fool for life ;).  And a fool for poetry, too.

Either because photos are poems–or just because–here are some photos of northern California spring splendor I took in March, when California spring really begins:

This last photo shows the blossoming almond trees in the background.  For more on the almond trees, here is a photo and short-short piece on Cowbird.


Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Poetry

12 responses to “Cruel April’s Fool

  1. I have always thought of Spring as sort of a floozy, all flash with it’s vivid green and blowsy flowers. But I love her.

  2. I loved your photos and words.The almond trees need bees, so I wish California plenty of them.

    Imagine spring coming in March! Today is sunny but cold in Michigan, the occasional snowflake flying by.

    • lucewriter

      Wilma, I’m so sorry that you still have snow! California spring is gorgeous. And Arizona spring is looking finer. I drove through the desert today, and it’s at its most beautiful right now–the most delicate new green trees and yellow flowers and a sandy colored grass where usually there isn’t any grass at all.

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  5. I have bad memories of that poem…it was the first thing we read in the first major lit class I took for my English major, and I hated it, and wrote an essay to that effect (with plenty of good support for my point, I suppose)! I have never gone back to try the poem again, but I wonder how I would like it today…maybe I could appreciate it more after a master’s degree in English, but then again, I went the rhetoric route over literature, so I’m not sure. I don’t think you said how you feel about the poem as far as its execution? I’d be curious to know…

    • lucewriter

      This is a great question. I actually (ok, please sit down if you are not) took an independent study in college on Eliot. Maybe I should write a post about this as my thoughts are very confusing about Eliot and The Waste Lane. I could maybe work on it over the weekend . . .

      • Ha ha! That’s not necessary! I’m okay with people having different views than me! And seeing as how the poem is so famous (for good reasons), I’m quite likely in the minority on this one!

        • lucewriter

          I will say that the downside to the poem, as I see it, is that it is so referential. It’s like a research project to “really” read it heh.

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