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janbb's avatar

Is April the "cruelest month"?

Asked by janbb (54132points) April 10th, 2010

The Poet (T.S. Eliot) said,
” April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire….”

I was thinking of this last night as we drove past beautiful flowering trees and forsythia on our way to dinner in another town. Some of the trees are already dropping their petals, their time of flowering is so short. Is this season bittersweet for you too, or only joyful?

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33 Answers

ucme's avatar

It May be another, not sure which though.

skfinkel's avatar

Yes. The contrast with the new life and beauty, with the sadness one can experience can make it the “cruelest” month.

Ume's avatar

Absolutely joyful! I can’t believe people would think April is the “cruelest month.” For me, April is the month where everything becomes green and beautiful. Its a month where people should be happy, no matter what they’re dealing with. Why would you want to be sad when everything around you is so beautiful?

ZEPHYRA's avatar

NO! It is a gorgeous month!

MarcoNJ's avatar

Cruel? Nah. April’s nice. The only cruel thing about it for me is having to get off my lazy ass to do some yard work.

skfinkel's avatar

@ZEPHYRA @Ume It is just the gorgeousness that makes it cruel, say if you have lost a person dear to you. It’s the painful contrast. If you are lucky enough to not be in such a situation, then forget it and just enjoy the fabulousness of spring.

janbb's avatar

@skfinkel And we can sense the transitory nature of all things and long for what is missing from our lives….

skfinkel's avatar

@janbb Yes. It is a skill to really focus on the good and happy and let the rest go.

janbb's avatar

@skfinkel We do have the best of children!

Cruiser's avatar

I love April! In April flowers bloom and trees and grass turn green, time to start the garden and get ready for summers hot days! April is also the time we say good riddance to winter!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

April is “mud season” here, but no black flies until May. Both suck.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Nah, that would be February. The come down from a new year, what seems to be (for most people) a crappiness of Valentine’s Day and the fallout from any plans made that get discarded or given up on.

DominicX's avatar

Normally I like April, but Northern California has crap weather. It’s 57 degrees and raining today. I am so sick of this. What is this, Portland, Oregon?

I miss living in Las Vegas… :(

Ume's avatar

Well I think if I had just lost someone, then it would make everything even more beautiful and sweet. Because then I would be able to reflect upon their life in a beautiful place, instead of having to deal with the cold while trying to commemorate them.

For instance, when I lost my grandmother a few years ago during springtime, I was able to decorate her grave with beautiful wildflowers and just sit by her grave and reflect.
If it had been winter, then I probably would not have done that and there would have been no opportunity to decorate her grave with beautiful wildflowers. So really I am thankful that I had that opportunity in the Spring. It makes everything so much nicer.

@skfinkel It seems that you’ve just had a loss and I’m sorry. I really hope that instead of feeling down, you can enjoy this wonderful Springtime. :)

Jeruba's avatar

I love that passage for its poetry, but April is the most joyous of months for me. I chose it for the month of my marriage just for that reason. In the Northeast it’s when the first forsythia bursts into banks of sunny yellow just when you need them most. Here in Northern California, my lilacs are still full and fragrant, and my yellow roses always have great hugs of blossoms wide open on our anniversary.

April in my mind is bright yellow in color. I look forward to it all year. That passage in “The Wasteland” always makes me feel sorry for poor Eliot, who lost the beauty of it to longing.

wundayatta's avatar

That’s the thing. April is cruel because April is capricious. She might send you sun and flowers or she might send you rain and misfortune. April can be kind, and all the bulbs and seeds you planted last fall spring into life. Or she can be cruel, and leave the ground barren and hopeless.

This year, it was winter that did it’s worst, trying to kill the trees with heavy, heavy snow. Now the drying branches have been cut down, and the tree is blooming and humming a tune underneath it’s breath—as a dozen varieties of bees dance attendance on the sweet nectar limning each petal cup.

We are wary, though. Watching her for her tricks. Her sudden moments of fury; her petulance. Which azaleas will shine, and which rhododendron will bear blooms? Will April defer to May, her gentler sister? Even then, May so often competes with June, racing to see who can get to summer first. April will join in this race, too, and this year, she won—even if only for a day.

So I could argue either way. When you wake her, you never know which April will rise from the down. The one who shines and smiles her blessing and warmth ; or the angry one who brings lightning crashing down and tries to inundate us with her tears of frustration.

Cruel? Only, I think, in her capriciousness.

absalom's avatar

No. But this poem is not as bleak as so many say it is, I think. I would call it like April, ambivalent.

gailcalled's avatar

And Frost’s take on spring:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Element's avatar

No, altleast not to me…

filmfann's avatar

April is my favorite month. Springtime. The harsh weather of Winter is over.
The only thing I don’t like is how it effects my allergies.

bob_'s avatar

I like April because my birthday is in April (on the 12th).

faye's avatar

April this year has been cruel- lovely and warm in late Mar so things began budding and then April brought howling winds and snow and back to freezing at night! Still too windy to work outside.

lonelydragon's avatar

I don’t think April is the cruelest month. February is, because I get sick of winter and wonder if it’ll ever end.

As much as I’d like to engage in your poetic musings about the lifespan of flowers and how they correspond to human life, flowers are not my friends right now. My thoughts are, “Go ahead and finish flowering already. You make me sneeze!”

skfinkel's avatar

@Ume Thank you. Just to let you know, I am enjoying April. I just have some experience of the contrast.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

How emo.
I’d think a poet would learn to love all the months of the year and the unique beauty they represent.

boffin's avatar

April 15th
Nuff said….

janbb's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy I doubt that T.S. Eliot has ever been called “emo” before.

Mariah's avatar

Spring is my favorite season. I almost like the feeling of anticipating the good weather better than the good weather itself. Go figure. I just like the feeling of hope when everything comes back to life after the long winter. So, no, I’m a fan of April, other than the fact that it’s the month where studying for exams is most intense.

Plus, I was born in April, and I like to think that my birth wasn’t a cruel event. Hehe. :]

bright_eyes00's avatar

April! bad month! bad! not on the carpet!

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Well now he has. haha

slick44's avatar

It is very cruel, it makes me another year older.

jeanmay's avatar

I want to love April, I really do, but it’s bittersweet for me too. Last week I was so happy to see the cherry blossom in bloom all over, but it’s already falling which makes my heart ache. These things are only serving to remind me that time is passing, and that I can’t stop it from doing so. I hope one day I will see more of the joy in Spring again.

@Captain_Fantasy On a lighter note, your ‘emo’ remark made me laugh out loud! Thanks for the chortle!

everephebe's avatar

I love lilacs and rain. April isn’t the cruelest month, in fact it’s one of my favorites, it could go toe to toe with October. But that said, I think every month is bittersweet.

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