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April, the cruelest?

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

On the heels of the vernal equinox, the forward-moving energy of Aries, a new moon on April 1st here in Maine, winds and warm rains, warm sun, some of us might be feeling a great deal of stirring. I know I am. Ponds and streams have all but melted. The earth is thawing. Shoots are like arrows bursting forth.

But am I ready for it? Are you?

Or, are you wondering, Wait, what just happened? These past two years, six years, six decades?

Or, What "the eff " is happening now? Can’t we just slow everything down?

Thank goodness April is National Poetry Month. The practice of reading and writing poetry surely settles down my nervous system. It settles and stirs.

Epic poetry allows us to explore themes of epic proportion. Surely, there is far too much in T.S. Eliot's poem, "The Waste Land," to discuss in this brief space, but these mere four lines haunt me every year when April comes...

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

The way I read it, “The Waste Land” isn’t about renewal as much as it’s about the breakdown––––loss, despair, the mess of a world after a war, individual and collective denial, humanity moving more and more death-like toward death, the unraveling. It’s a tragedy. It’s real. And it speaks to now.

I think about how Eliot is suggesting, that if the spring’s sun sparks new life, new growth, possibility, is it cruel, then, this spark, when we know death will surely follow? If death is as imminent as life, is Eliot suggesting there is only failure in hope? That spring is too bright against the dull reality world?

But, I have to wonder, if we just take these first four lines, and if April mixes “memory and desire,” what then is cruel about that?

Creative Prompts

~ Light a candle in a quiet place at night. Set your timer for 10-minutes and write from the pattern of these lead lines…

Cruelty is…

What grows out of it is…

My hope is for…

My prayer is…

Then repeat. You can do this as long as you’d like, of course, and you can make it a daily practice for a week or a month.

~ Write some poems or Haikus sparked from the sentiments coming from this free write.

~ Make an accordion book of as many pages as you wish to do this practice. Watch the (very simple) practice video below on how to construct a simple accordion book. Use your pages to write your hopes and dreams and/or your poems. Use images, illustrations, colors, and doodles to depict them. Your little book becomes a record of your practice. This 4 section version (back to front) allows you to record your 7 days of practice and still create a cover.

~ Feel free to look at more complex versions of making accordion books with sturdy board covers, decorative papers, and the like on YouTube. Go get lost in that wonderful world wide web. I like to make mine out of the papers that line my painting table.



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