Thank Godness Spring Is Here…

Thank goodness the spring month of April has begun. Weather-wise it started out badly, though. It has been grey, cold, and windy, and it felt like T.S. Eliot was right when he wrote his famous “April is the cruellest month,…”. Just the other day I read a piece in The Spectator (26 March, 2011) by Charles Moore where he mentions this line and that Eliot wanted “to make play” with the opening of Chaucer’s Tales, which sets out with,

Here begins the Book of the Tales of Canterbury
When April with his showers sweet with fruit

Today the weather was actually pretty good, so it almost felt like spring was here in the south-east corner of Connecticut. I though a nice poem would be appropriate on an April day like today, but of course Eliot’s – which still must be the most famous of poems about April nowadays – would not do, despite that both the Thames and ‘rowing’ are mentioned in the poem,

Elizabeth and Leicester
Beating oars
The stern was form
A gilded shell
Red and gold
The brisk swell
Rippled both shores

Admirers of Chaucer and Eliot have to excuse me, but I believe R.C. ‘Rudie’ Lehmann is my man for a poem about April. This is actually the title of Lehmann’s poem that I am thinking of, “April”. Although, it seems that Lehmann has also read the Canterbury Tales. His prose poem gets underway with “APRIL, the month of sunshine flecked with showers,”. And half-way in the poem, he writes about the famed race that happened a fortnight ago, “And oh ye men of dark blue or of light blue/ (whiche’er ye wear be sure it is the right blue)…/”.

At the end of his poem, Lehmann, known for his light verse, records:

At last, while crowd to crowd responsive roars, the
boats race by, a gleam of feathered oars. Far in advance
the very air is humming with shouts of “Now they’ve
started, now they’re coming.” Eight tortured oarsmen
straining for the led whom eight more strong or
fortunate precede; two arrow-ships for racing well
designed; four steamers lumbering tardily behind, a
shout, a flash-the vision disappears, and that is all one
either sees or hears.
Fill then the wine-cup and, with sparkling eyes,
drink to the race and all that it implies. Let whoso
will pursue for sordid pelf some pretty object, thinking
but of self. These men endured, like brother joined
to brother, each for his club and all for one another,
intent to be through every change of weather, not
eight mere units, but a crew together.

Happy Spring!

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