Poems for April.
April may have been overtaken by May and Spring is now sliding into Summer so apologies for being a laggard. Or maybe I can claim to be presumptious for 2018! Another small selection for the seasons covering 700 years.
Short extract of beginning of Prologue to Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Modern translation by Ecker and Crook (online & published by Hodge and Braddock 1993)…. I would highly recommend this translation of the complete Tales for those in study now or for nostalgia of days studied and how it should really be translated!!
When April’s gentle rains have pierced the drought
Of March right to the root, and bathed each sprout
Through every vein with liquid of such power
It brings forth the engendering of the flower;
When Zephyrus too with his sweet breath has blown
Through every field and forest, urging on
The tender shoots, and there’s a youthful sun,
His second half course through the Ram now run,
And little birds are making melody
And sleep all night, eyes open as can be
(So Nature pricks them in each little heart),
On pilgrimage then folks desire to start.
The palmers long to travel foreign strands
To distant shrines renowned in sundry lands;
And specially, from every shire’s end
In England, folks to Canterbury wend:
To seek the blissful martyr is their will,
The one who gave such help when they were ill.
April Showers John Clare
Delightful weather for all sorts of moods
& most for him – grey morn and swarthy eye
Found rambling up the little narrow lane
Where primrose banks amid the hazly woods
Peep most delightfully on passers bye
While Aprils little clouds about the sky
Mottle & freak unto fancy lie
Idling and ending travel for the day
Till darker clouds sail up with cumberous heave
South oer the woods & scares them all away
Then comes the rain pelting with pearly drops
The primrose crowds until they stoop & lie
All fragrance to his mind that musing stops
Beneath the awthorn till the shower is bye
This poem taken from Midsummer Cushion, the manuscript that Clare spent a tremendous amount of time preparing for publication but it never was in his lifetime. It took 150 years. Published by MidNAG &Carcanet in 1978, intro. by Anne Tibble. A collection of poems we know selected and ordered by himself makes this a particularly special book.
April Jean Whitfield
I saw into the eye of the month with its moist buds
not quite contained on quivering branches
and an embroidered sky beyond white mazes
of yellow-cream green-shining almost-leaves
mere prickings spinning webs with sunlight
and the wild plum tree hazy with dabs of thick leaf.
A crazy Crow clowned an April trick
balancing a leg a wing a hooded beak
on one slender single-budded branch
bending low with him and springing up
against the sheer cliff-top blue
as the carrion trampolines and grinned gleaming.
Sky is all-at-once a whipped and curling ice-cream sea
with wave-tops flashing peaking into one another
and down here grass reflects its silver in these bending blades
that goldfinches skim on the surface light
and carry its message in their joy lifting and flowing.
April’s music laced with wings rejoices in its murmurings
it is all surprises at the heart of it, is a gift for us
an unfolding of the ceaseless year that is happening again.
I tasted April sharp and clear
a spring of a day bubbling out of the gill
it wet my lips filled my cold throats and flowed
like light lapping tree-tops fresh through me
and my toes shot sparks in the icy dew:
in the warming sun my skin became April.
A poem from ‘Moments’, reprinted by permission of Bakery Press. Another example of the quality of this poet’s work.