April: Cruel or "Proud-pied"?
Spring brings hope of renewal, of new life from winter's barren ground, an exultation recorded by many a poet. (For Minnesotans, the joy may be mixed with the kind of revengeful relief that drives A. A. Milne's "Daffodowndilly": "[She] shook her yellow head, / And whispered to her neighbor: / 'Winter is dead.'") As in T. S. Eliot's famous lines, though, many writers have greeted spring with more ambivalence. We offer a bit of both celebration and doubt below. (Have a favorite we missed? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post it on our Facebook and Twitter accounts March 20-24.)
1. "When proud-pied April dress'd in all his trim / Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing" — William Shakespeare, from "Sonnet 98"
3. "What a strange thing! / to be alive / beneath cherry blossoms" — Kobayashi Issa, "What a Strange Thing"
4. "O were my Love yon lilac fair, / Wi' purple blossoms to the spring, / And I a bird to shelter there, / When wearied on my little wing" — Robert Burns, from "O Were My Love Yon Lilac fair"
5. "A cold spring: / the violet was flawed on the lawn" — Elizabeth Bishop, from "A Cold Spring"
6. "And trees put forth new leaves to sing / In joy beneath the sky / As down the roadway / Passing boys and girls / Go singing, too" — Langston Hughes, "In Time of Silver Rain" [for Lorraine Hansberry]
7. "Spring is umbilical or else it is not spring" — Wallace Stevens, from "Holiday in Reality"
8. "She walks among the loveliness she made, / Between the apple-blossom and the water— / She walks among the patterned pied brocade, / Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter" — Vita Sackville-West, from "The Island"
9. "It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, / April / Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers" — Edna St. Vincent Millay, from "Spring"
10. "And smale fowles maken melodye, / That slepen al the night with open ye, / (So priketh hem nature in hir corages: / Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages" — Geoffrey Chaucer, from "The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales"