Greeting April – Origins
In the words of one historian, “The Romans gave this month the Latin name Aprilis, but the derivation of this name is uncertain. The traditional etymology is from the verb ‘aperire,’ ‘to open,’ in allusion to its being the season when trees and flowers begin to ‘open,’ which is supported by comparison with the modern Greek use of (anoixis) (opening) for Spring. Since some of the Roman months were named in honor of divinities, and as April was sacred to the goddess Venus, her Veneralia being held on the first day, it has been suggested that Aprilis was originally her month Aphrilis, from her equivalent Greek goddess name Aphrodite (‘Aphros’), or from the Etruscan name ‘Apru.’
Greeting April with Poetry: Helen Hunt Jackson
From “Calendar of Sonnets – April”
No days such honored days as these! While yet
Fair Aphrodite reigned, men seeking wide
For some fair thing which should forever bide
On earth, her beauteous memory to set
In fitting frame that no age could forget,
Her name in lovely April’s name did hide,
And leave it there, eternally allied
To all the fairest flowers Spring did beget.
Greeting April with Art – Emil Jakob Schindler: “Garden in Plankenberg”
Greeting April with Song – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: “April in Paris”
Greeting April with Prose: Henry James
“I smile, of course, And go on drinking tea. ‘Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall My buried life, and Paris in the Spring, I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world To be wonderful and youthful, after all.’”
Welcoming April with Poetry: Thomas Tusser
Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers
On This Date – Part I of VI: Abraham Maslow
“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” – Abraham Maslow, American psychologist and author of “The Farther Reaches of Human Nature,” who was born 1 April 1908.
Some quotes from Abraham Maslow:
“When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.”
“One’s only rival is one’s own potentialities. One’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities. In this sense, every man can be a king, and must therefore be treated like a king.”
“The fact is that people are good. Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior.”
“If I were dropped out of a plane into the ocean and told the nearest land was a thousand miles away, I’d still swim. And I’d despise the one who gave up.”
“But behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.”
“What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization.”
“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”
“Classic economic theory, based as it is on an inadequate theory of human motivation, could be revolutionized by accepting the reality of higher human needs, including the impulse to self actualization and the love for the highest values.”
“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”
“The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.”
“We may define therapy as a search for value.”
“A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.”
“We fear to know the fearsome and unsavory aspects of ourselves, but we fear even more to know the godlike in ourselves.”
“Dispassionate objectivity is itself a passion, for the real and for the truth.”
Welcoming April with Prose: Mark Twain
The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.
Welcoming April with Poetry: William Shakespeare
Greeting April with Poetry: Arthur Symons
Side by side through the streets at midnight,
Through the tumultuous night of London,
In the miraculous April weather.
Roaming together under the gaslight,
Day’s work over,
How the Spring calls to us, here in the city,
Calls to the heart from the heart of a lover!
Cool to the wind blows, fresh in our faces,
After the heat and the fumes and the footlights,
Where you dance and I watch your dancing.
Good it is to be here together,
Good to be roaming,
Even in London, even at midnight,
Lover-like in a lover’s gloaming.
You the dancer and I the dreamer,
Wandering lost in the night of London,
In the miraculous April weather.
On This Date – Part II of VI: Marvin Gaye
“I sing about life.” – Marvin Gaye, American singer-songwriter, who died 1 April 1984.
Welcoming April with Poetry: Edna St. Vincent Millay
“Song of a Second April”
April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.
There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
From orchards near and far away
The gray wood-pecker taps and bores,
And men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.
The larger streams run still and deep;
Noisy and swift the small brooks run.
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun
Pensively; only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.
Greeting April with Art – Henry Stooshinoff: “Lake Ontario, Late April”
Greeting April with Poetry: James Hearst
This I saw on an April day:
Warm rain spilt from a sun-lined cloud,
A sky-flung wave of gold at evening,
And a cock pheasant treading a dusty path
Shy and proud.
And this I found in an April field:
A new white calf in the sun at noon,
A flash of blue in a cool moss bank,
And tips of tulips promising flowers
To a blue-winged loon.
Greeting April with Art – Vincent van Gogh: “Flower Beds in Holland, April 1883”
Greeting April with Poetry: Ernest Dowson
We have walked in Love’s land a little way,
We have learnt his lesson a little while,
And shall we not part at the end of day,
With a sigh, a smile?
A little while in the shine of the sun,
We were twined together, joined lips, forgot
How the shadows fall when the day is done,
And when Love is not.
We have made no vows–there will none be broke,
Our love was free as the wind on the hill,
There was no word said we need wish unspoke,
We have wrought no ill.
So shall we not part at the end of day,
Who have loved and lingered a little while,
Join lips for the last time, go our way,
With a sigh, a smile?
On This Date – Part III of VI: Agnes Repplier
“There are few nudities so objectionable as the naked truth.” – Agnes Repplier, American essayist, who was born 1 April 1855.
Some quotes from Agnes Repplier:
“Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding.”
“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.”
“We cannot really love anyone with whom we never laugh.”
“It is impossible for a lover of cats to banish these alert, gentle, and discriminating friends, who give us just enough of their regard and complaisance to make us hunger for more.”
“Humor distorts nothing, and only false gods are laughed off their earthly pedestals.”
“A kitten is chiefly remarkable for rushing about like mad at nothing whatever, and generally stopping before it gets there.”
“It has been well said that tea is suggestive of a thousand wants, from which spring the decencies and luxuries of civilization.”
“Democracy forever teases us with the contrast between its ideals and its realities, between its heroic possibilities and its sorry achievements.”
“It is as impossible to withhold education from the receptive mind, as it is impossible to force it upon the unreasoning.”
“It is in his pleasure that a man really lives; it is from his leisure that he constructs the true fabric of self.”
“It is not what we learn in conversation that enriches us. It is the elation that comes of swift contact with tingling currents of thought.”
“Laughter springs from the lawless part of our nature.”
“The clear-sighted do not rule the world, but they sustain and console it.”
“The diseases of the present have little in common with the diseases of the past save that we die of them.”
“The thinkers of the world should by rights be guardians of the world’s mirth.”
“The tourist may complain of other tourists, but he would be lost without them.”
“People who cannot recognize a palpable absurdity are very much in the way of civilization.”
Greeting April with Poetry: Matthew Zapruder
Today in El Paso all the planes are asleep on the runway. The world
is in a delay. All the political consultants drinking whiskey keep
their heads down, lifting them only to look at the beautiful scarred
waitress who wears typewriter keys as a necklace. They jingle
when she brings them drinks. Outside the giant plate glass windows
the planes are completely covered in snow, it piles up on the wings.
I feel like a mountain of cell phone chargers. Each of the various
faiths of our various fathers keeps us only partly protected. I don’t
want to talk on the phone to an angel. At night before I go to sleep
I am already dreaming. Of coffee, of ancient generals, of the faces
of statues each of which has the eternal expression of one of my feelings.
I examine my feelings without feeling anything. I ride my blue bike
on the edge of the desert. I am president of this glass of water.
Greeting April with Poetry: Delmore Schwartz
“Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day”
Calmly we walk through this April’s day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn …)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(… that time is the fire in which we burn.)
(This is the school in which we learn …)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn …)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(… that time is the fire in which they burn.)
Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;
Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.
Welcoming April with Poetry: Alicia Ostriker
The optimists among us
taking heart because it is spring
attending their meetings
signing their e-mail petitions
marching with their satiric signs
singing their we shall overcome songs
posting their pungent twitters and blogs
believing in a better world
for no good reason
I envy them
said the old woman
The seasons go round they
go round and around
said the tulip
dancing among her friends
in their brown bed in the sun
in the April breeze
under a maple canopy
that was also dancing
only with greater motions
casting greater shadows
and the grass
What a concerto
of good stinks said the dog
trotting along Riverside Drive
in the early spring afternoon
sniffing this way and that
how gratifying the cellos of the river
the tubas of the traffic
of the leafing elms with the legato
of my rivals’ piss at their feet
and the leftover meat and grease
singing along in all the wastebaskets
On This Date – Part IV of VI: Milan Kundera
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” – Milan Kundera, Czech writer who has lived in France since 1975 (and who insists that his work be studied as French literature and classified as such in book stores) and author of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” who was born 1 April 1929.
Some quotes from the work of Milan Kundera:
“Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that’s beautiful.”
“You can’t measure the mutual affection of two human beings by the number of words they exchange.”
“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.”
“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
“For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”
“He suddenly recalled from Plato’s Symposium: People were hermaphrodites until God split then in two, and now all the halves wander the world over seeking one another. Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.”
“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”
“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.”
“People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It’s not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.”
“A person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person.”
“There is no perfection, only life.”
“The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful … Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory.”
“Loves are like empires: when the idea they are founded on crumbles, they, too, fade away.”
“And therein lies the whole of man’s plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.”
“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”
Greeting April with Poetry: W. D. Snodgrass
The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.
In one whole year I haven’t learned
A blessed thing they pay you for.
The blossoms snow down in my hair;
The trees and I will soon be bare.
The trees have more than I to spare.
The sleek, expensive girls I teach,
Younger and pinker every year,
Bloom gradually out of reach.
The pear tree lets its petals drop
Like dandruff on a tabletop.
The girls have grown so young by now
I have to nudge myself to stare.
This year they smile and mind me how
My teeth are falling with my hair.
In thirty years I may not get
Younger, shrewder, or out of debt.
The tenth time, just a year ago,
I made myself a little list
Of all the things I’d ought to know,
Then told my parents, analyst,
And everyone who’s trusted me
I’d be substantial, presently.
I haven’t read one book about
A book or memorized one plot.
Or found a mind I did not doubt.
I learned one date. And then forgot.
And one by one the solid scholars
Get the degrees, the jobs, the dollars.
And smile above their starchy collars.
I taught my classes Whitehead’s notions;
One lovely girl, a song of Mahler’s.
Lacking a source-book or promotions,
I showed one child the colors of
A luna moth and how to love.
I taught myself to name my name,
To bark back, loosen love and crying;
To ease my woman so she came,
To ease an old man who was dying.
I have not learned how often I
Can win, can love, but choose to die.
I have not learned there is a lie
Love shall be blonder, slimmer, younger;
That my equivocating eye
Loves only by my body’s hunger;
That I have forces, true to feel,
Or that the lovely world is real.
While scholars speak authority
And wear their ulcers on their sleeves,
My eyes in spectacles shall see
These trees procure and spend their leaves.
There is a value underneath
The gold and silver in my teeth.
Though trees turn bare and girls turn wives,
We shall afford our costly seasons;
There is a gentleness survives
That will outspeak and has its reasons.
There is a loveliness exists,
Preserves us, not for specialists.
Welcoming April with Poetry: T. S. Eliot
From “The Waste Land”
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Below – Charles Anderson: “April is the Cruellest Month”
Welcoming April with Poetry: William Henry Davies
From “April’s Charms”
When April scatters charms of primrose gold
Among the copper leaves in thickets old,
And singing skylarks from the meadows rise,
To twinkle like black stars in sunny skies;
When I can hear the small woodpecker ring
Time on a tree for all the birds that sing;
And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long —
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song.
Welcoming April with Prose: Julia Dorr
“April’s rare capricious loveliness.”
Greeting April with Song – Sugarland: “April Showers”
Greeting April with Poetry: Robert Frost
From “Two Tramps in Mud Time”
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.
Greeting April with Prose: Christopher Morley
April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go.”
Greeting April with Poetry: Alice Dunbar-Nelson
I had no thought of violets of late,
The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet
In wistful April days, when lovers mate
And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.
On This Date – Part V of VI: Paul Gauguin
1 April 1891 – French painter Paul Gauguin leaves Marseille for Tahiti.
And what treasures he brought back from Paradise!
Below – “Two Tahitian Women with Mango”; “The Moon and the Earth”: “Nevermore, O Tahiti!”; “Nave Nave Moe” (“Sacred Spring”); “Fatata te miti” (“Near the Sea”); “The Day of the Gods”; “And the Gold of Their Bodies.”
Greeting April with Poetry: John Masefield
I have seen the lady April bringing the daffodils,
Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.
Greeting April with Poetry: Wallace Stevens
From “Sunday Morning”
There is not any haunt of prophecy,
Nor any old chimera of the grave,
Neither the golden underground, nor isle
Melodious, where spirits gat them home,
Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm
Remote on heaven’s hill, that has endured
As April’s green endures; or will endure
Like her remembrance of awakened birds,
Or her desire for June and evening, tipped
By the consummation of the swallow’s wings.
Below – Vincent van Gogh: “Marguerite Gachet in the Garden”
Greeting April with Prose: Dallas Lore Sharp
When the April wind wakes the call for the soil, I hold the plough as my only hold upon the earth, and, as I follow through the fresh and fragrant furrow, I am planted with every foot-step, growing, budding, blooming into a spirit of spring.
Greeting April with Song – Simon and Garfunkel: “April Come She Will”
Welcoming April with Poetry: William Shakespeare
April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
Greeting April with Prose: Robert Hass
In California in the early Spring,
There are pale yellow mornings, when the mist burns slowly into day,
The air stings like Autumn, clarifies like pain –
Well, I have dreamed this coast myself.
Greeting April with Poetry: Emily Dickinson
The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee,
A clover, anytime, to him,
On This Date – Part VI of VI: Commiseration
Happy April Fools’ Day
On a personal note, I think that being the father of three sons is in many ways like being the butt of a painfully extended April Fools’ Day joke, and I know of at least one person who shares my opinion:
“Before I was married, I had a hundred theories about raising children and no children. Now, I have three children and no theories.” – John Wilmot, English poet, born 1 April 1647.
Below – My Three April Fools
Welcoming April with Poetry: Edna St. Vincent Millay
To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
Greeting April with Prose: Henry David Thoreau
Spring. March fans it, April christens it, and May puts on its jacket and trousers.
Welcome, Lovely April