The Cruellest Month

In Sweden we talk about "April weather", indicating the kind of swift changes from almost summer temperatures to bitter winter snow that can take place during this month. In that sense, April is cruel, one moment hinting the blissful days to come and in the next taking it all away with a cold wind.

I'm not sure that this is what T.S. Eliot meant with his famouse first verse of "The Waste Land", although there might be a hint of it.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

It's not an easy poem to read nor understand, and probably never was intended to be so. David Peck even calls it elitist in his summary (how great it is with all this stuff on the webb to guide you as both teacher and student) since it's filled with metaphors and references to classical works.

"Describing a series of failed encounters between various men and women, Eliot creates composites of fertility archetypes who ironically are incapable of offering spiritual nourishment to a dying world. The characters drift in and out of meaningless relationships; the men and women are impotent, shallow, vain, excruciatingly ordinary. Culture is reduced to common clichés; the well of redemption becomes a “dull canal.” The world is filled with “a heap of broken images” where “the dead tree gives no shelter.” The only salvation appears to be in personal responsibility, self-control, and a faith in cultural continuity based on common Western European values."

However, there might be other reasons for April to be perceived as a bad month. One suggestion is because the annual deadline for Americans to mail their tax returns, and checks, to the Internal Revenue Service is April 15. Also Swedish citizens spend a good deal of April thinking about how to fill in their Income Tax Return that is due May 4 (not me though, I've already sent my text message). Easter is also often celebrated in April, and it didn't go so well for Jesus, unless you think he is better off in heaven of course. April Fools' Day may also end in tears if you're not careful. Earth Month celebrates its 45th Anniversary this April and the theme for the year is "Our Planet In Peril".

Many draw parallels between "The Waste Land" poem and F. Scott Fitzgerald's book "The Great Gatsby". It didn't end so well for the main characters. Not even its author, although apparently Eliot was a great fan, according to his letter to Fitzgerald. However, the latest film did make a $58.6 million profit. Maybe luck will change for April too.

From Säveån April 2015

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