T.S. Eliot cornered the market on April being the cruelest month, but that doesn’t mean other poets can’t weigh in. Below Jim Harrison takes up the theme in his poem “Gathering April.”
Here April’s cruelty is the cold, where succor can be found in corners or swales or even a warm cellar door. Say what you will, though, April’s violence, like all of nature’s, is still living.
In fact, reading about it, you feel very much alive and outdoors. Harrison seems to realize at much toward the end when he counts as a blessing “that an April exists,” because for it to exist, he must.
Meantime, a shout-out goes to Shigeyoshi Obata’s translations of Li-Po’s poetry. Now there’s an April thought. One you can take in during October, even.
Gathering April Jim Harrison
Stuffing a crow call in one ear and an unknown bird's in the other, lying on the warm cellar door out of the cool wind which I take small sparing bites of with three toes still wet from the pond's edge: April is so violent up here you hide in corners or, when in the woods, in swales and behind beech trees. Twenty years ago this April I offered my stupid heart up to this bloody voyage. It was near a marsh on a long walk. You can't get rid of those thousand pointless bottles of whiskey that you brought along. Last night after the poker game I read Obata's Li Po. He was no less a fool but adding those twenty thousand poems you come up with a god. There are patents on all the forms of cancer but still we praise god from whom or which all blessings flow: that an April exists, that a body lays itself down on a warm cellar door and remembers, drinks in birds and wind, whiskey, frog songs from the marsh, the little dooms hiding in the shadow of each fence post.