Thursday, 22 April 2010

April is the cruellest month

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
From 'The Waste Land' 1: The Burial of the Dead T S Eliot (1888 - 1965)
I cannot agree with Eliot's sombre reflection.Certainly April is changeable, perverse and unpredictable in her habits,but when the sun shines and birds sing and buds unfurl into fresh green leaves and scented blossoms and delicate flowers it is a month to be lauded and applauded.
April violets - Viola - in the garden
We have never planted these in our garden but they appear each year and are spreading, to our great delight!
Dog violets - Viola riviniana -  in the forest today
(Pity they weren't Viola labradorica!!)
For me April is a soft and gentle month of new life and optimism, of a promise fulfilled and a pledge renewed that more is to come.
April's colours are subtle; there is not the extravagance of the summer flowers that bloom to excess, each brighter and showier than its neighbours to attract the butterflies and bees. Roses are overblown - forget-me-nots never!  
Forget-me-nots - Myosotis - appear every year, mostly blue, occasionally pink or white, they are pretty, unassuming little plants.
The last few days in my corner of the globe have been wonderful - warm, bright, breezy and loud with bird song. Already there are many butterflies and bees busily following their instincts and each day brings new delights as more almost forgotten beauties reveal themselves.
Exochorda - the Pearl Bush
Always at this time of year, almost unbidden, the choral piece 'All in the April evening' comes to my mind. I sang it as a girl at school and have always loved it. In this video it is sung by the  Glasgow Orpheus Choir.

Lily of the Valley - Convallaria majalis - comes twirling its way to the surface.
Honesty - Lunaria rediviva - is a biennial plant. Its flowers are usually purple, sometimes white and attract, bees, butterflies, moths and flies which pollinate them. Some of its popular names are Silver dollar, Penny flower, Moonwort. Flower arrangers like to use its papery silver seed heads in their displays.
April sun gladdens the heart and makes the spirit dance. The sap is rising and, as Alfred Lord Tennyson  (1809 - 1892) so aptly wrote, 'In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.'
More than 200 years earlier William Shakespeare (1564 -1616)  wrote 'verses' that appeared in 'As You Like It'. It has been suggested that the banality of the rhymes and lyrics was a deliberate ploy by the bard to show his playful side. The words have been set to music by a number of different composers. In the following video the work is sung to Thomas Morley's music. He was a contemporary of Shakespeare so perhaps his rendering is the most appropriate!

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