Thursday, April 23, 2009

April In Paris

Since April is National Poetry Month, why not talk about music and poetry? After all, the month of April figures rather significantly in a famous Modernist poem from the early 20th century, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Eliot’s poem begins with a famous sentence, composed of four lines: “April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.” Most scholars agree that these lines from Eliot are intertextually linked to the first lines of the Prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour . . .

(When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower . . .)

According to, the derivation of the name (Latin Aprilis) is uncertain. The traditional etymology from the Latin aperire, “to open,” in allusion to its being the season when trees and flowers begin to “open,” is supported by comparison with the modern Greek use of ἁνοιξις (opening) for spring. Since most of the Roman months were named in honor of divinities, and as April was sacred to Venus, the Festum Veneris et Fortunae Virilis being held on the first day, it has been suggested that Aprilis was originally her month Aphrilis, from her Greek name Aphrodite (Aphros), or from the Etruscan name Apru.

Thus, while for Eliot (who apparently would prefer the oblivion of winter) April is the cruelest month, for the vast majority of poets April is a month to celebrate. If indeed it is the month honoring Venus, the goddess of Love, then it is also the month of rebirth, renewal and discovery, the month celebrating love and lovers. I know of two bands named after the month of April, April Wine (“Say Hello”) and Making April, but there have been many songs written in homage to April as well.

A Playlist Of Songs Featuring April:
Pat Boone – April Love
Deep Purple – April
Ella Fitzgerald – April in Paris
Ian Moore – April
The Jesus and Mary Chain – April Skies
John Phillips – April Anne
Prince – Sometimes It Snows In April
Ron Sexsmith – April After All
Simon and Garfunkel – April Come She Will
Three Dog Night – Pieces of April

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