April has been National Poetry Month in the United States. One purpose of this event is to provide resources and ideas for teachers, so that they can bring poetry into their classrooms.

I decided to look up some poems about April – or at least poems that refer to April – and it turns out that there are quite a few.

Perhaps the best known is “The Waste Land,” by T. S. Elliott. He started that poem with the famous line, “April is the cruellest month.” I don’t suppose he was thinking about April being tax month in the US.

The earliest reference I could find to April in poetry was from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Chaucer had a different view:

When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March’s drought to the root and all
And bathed every vein in liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has with his sweet breath,
Filled again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and leaves, and the young sun
His half-course in the sign of the Ram has run,

And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)
Then folk do long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in distant lands.

It almost sounds like he was writing about the spring conference season in the Northern Hemisphere, when teachers and applied linguists pack up their bags and go to workshops and plenary presentations.

It seems that many poems about April refer to the weather. Langston Hughes wrote a poem called “April Rain Song”:

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Longfellow wrote a poem called “An April Day,” which ends with this stanza:

Sweet April! many a thought
Is wedded unto thee, as hearts are wed;
Nor shall they fail, till, to its autumn brought,
Life’s golden fruit is shed.

Mark Slaughter was very positive about April. Unlike Elliott, for Slaughter, April is the best month:

April, dear April, come enter my dreams
And rid me from cold winter chills.
Banish the rain and those blustery winds
And warm up our countryside hills.

April, dear April, I know you can’t stay –
You have to move on ‘till next year.
And though I shall cherish the glory of summer,
You’ll always be my month most dear.

An often-quoted line is “April showers bring May flowers.” This seems to be a line from a poem by Karen Chappell, which has become something of a proverb. Its literal meaning is that May’s flowers will bloom because of April is a rainy month (again, with a Northern Hemisphere reference). The figurative meaning is that after hard work, there will be rewards, or after sadness, there will be joy.

I hope that is the case, because here in California, April has indeed been a rainy month. I look forward to seeing springtime blossoms around Monterey and in my back yard!

For TIRF, April has been a relatively quiet time, after all the hustle and bustle of March – our spring Board of Trustees meeting, the gala fundraiser, and the breakfast event for donors and grant recipients.

Over this last month, TIRF did not experience the type of April showers that some poets lament. If anything, the light sprinkles falling over the Foundation over the last thirty days are only germinating the seeds that we – as an organization – sowed over the last several months. Now that our 20th anniversary year has ended, I am looking forward to those seeds turning into budding May flowers.

Best wishes,