Saturday, April 05, 2008


Poetry in April

The Ridger points out that April is National Poetry Month. She’s celebrating it by posting a poem a day, so go see what she has to post (the one linked above is her own).

I won’t go into it with quite that zeal, but today I’ll kick in two April-related items to get the month started (it’s still early enough for a “start”, yes).

This is the first verse of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”, one of my favourites. I love the way he puts the verbs at the ends of the lines at the beginning, giving an odd rhythm by making the last word of one line really be the first word of the next.

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.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

And this is one of Paul Simon’s shorter ditties, “April Come She Will”, which first appeared on Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence album. This, too, has an interesting pattern, but much more simple; it’s reminiscent of the old traditional rhyme about “Monday’s child”. The inverted word order for April and August also adds to it.

April, come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May, she will stay
Resting in my arms again
June, she’ll change her tune
In restless walks she’ll prowl the night
July, she will fly
And give no warning to her flight
August, die she must
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold
September, I’ll remember
A love once new has now grown old


Ray said...

The Paul Simon rhyme reminded me of one that my mother used to recite:

The Cuckoo comes in April
She sings her song in May
In the middle of June she changes her tune
In July she flies away

Searching with Google, I see this derives from some very old folklore, but it certainly held true when I was growing up in England. It was always interesting to hear the Cuckoo's song change in June - it still began with "cook", but then the bird appeared to run out of puff, and the "ooh" just trailed off into nothingness.

The sound of the Cuckoo is something I miss, even though there are many beautiful bird songs here in the northeastern US.

lidija said...

K & I quoted that T.S. Elliot at least half dozen times in the last week :-)

Julietta said...

And one of my personal spring favorites (author unknown):

Spring has sprung
The grass is ris'
I wonder where
the birdies is.

Paul said...

I have two poetry blogs...neither of which have been updated in well over a year.