“Oh, to be in England now that April’s there” – Home Thoughts from Abroad by Robert Browning
“April is the cruellest month” – The Waste Land by T S Eliot
I’ve never thought much about the significance of these famous quotations about April, but both these poets, Browning and Eliot, express in their different ways how precious our springtime is, and so remind us of last year’s glorious Spring which lifted our spirits during those weeks of the first lockdown. Both express the sadness in missing out on the experience of all the new life bursting forth, whether one is abroad, as Browning was, or imagining, as Eliot did, a land wasted and devastated.
Eliot’s strange and complex poem apparently alludes in part to the legend of the Holy Grail quest, where the land of the Fisher King is barren and sterile until the Grail is found. An April without Spring would be cruel indeed, and although Eliot would not have meant it as such, his words can be seen as a warning to us of ecological disaster. In our latitudes the Easter message of the renewed hope we need has always been linked to the Spring.
“Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green”
From the hymn ‘Now the green blade rises’ – J M C Crum