Sentient in San Francisco – 1 April 2019

Greeting April

Below – Maurice Denis: “April”

Art for April – Dante Gabriel Rossetti: “Marigolds (The Bower Maiden, Fleur-de-Marie)”


Musings in April: Mark Twain

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”

Art for April – John William Waterhouse: “Flora”

A Poem for April

“April”
by Sara Teasdale

The roofs are shining from the rain.
The sparrows twitter as they fly,
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by.

Yet the back-yards are bare and brown
With only one unchanging tree–
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that it sings in me.


Art for April – Childe Hassam: “April (The Green Gown)”


This Date in Literary History: Born 1 April 1929 – Milan Kundera, a Czech-born French novelist, poet, playwright, and author of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”

Some quotes from the work of Milan Kundera:

“The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long that nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was… The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
“Beauty is a rebellion against time.”
“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.”
“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.”
“The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything.”
“The worst thing is not that the world is unfree, but that people have unlearned their liberty.”
“To laugh is to live profoundly.”
“Memory does not make films, it makes photographs.”
“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.”


Art for April – Mathias J. Alten: “April”


A Poem for April

“April Love”
by Ernest Christopher 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 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.

Below – Suzuki Harunobu: “Lovers Parting by a Garden Gate”

Art for April – Sir John Everett Millais: “Apple Blossoms or Spring”


Musings in April: T. S. Eliot

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


Art for April – Suzy Wyatt: “April Winds”


A Poem for April

“April”
by Louise Gluck

No one’s despair is like my despair–

You have no place in this garden
thinking such things, producing
the tiresome outward signs; the man
pointedly weeding an entire forest,
the woman limping, refusing to change clothes
or wash her hair.

Do you suppose I care
if you speak to one another?
But I mean you to know
I expected better of two creatures
who were given minds: if not
that you would actually care for each other
at least that you would understand
grief is distributed
between you, among all your kind, for me
to know you, as deep blue
marks the wild scilla, white
the wood violet.

Below – Paul Cezanne: “Couple in Garden”


Art for April – Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones: “Love Among the Ruins”


A Song for April


Art for April – Ford Madox Brown: “Pretty Baa-Lambs”


A Poem for April

“April”
by Alicia Ostriker

The optimists among us
taking heart because it is spring
skip along
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
hardly stirring

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
the trombones
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

Below – Joy S Olney: “Tulips in Rain”


Art for April – Claude Monet: “Japanese Bridge”


A Poem for April

“Spring”
by 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
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.


Art for April – Martin Johnson Heade: “April Showers”


Musings in April: Wang Wei

“O Day after day we can’t help growing older.

Year after year spring can’t help seeming younger.

Come let’s enjoy our winecup today,

Nor pity the flowers fallen.”
Below – Shen Ling: “Fallen Flowers Floating in Water”


Art for April – Berthe Morisot: “Cottage Interior at Jersey”


A Poem for April

April Inventory
by William 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.

Below – Vicky Wade: “Lovers at the Beach”


Art for April – Winslow Homer: “Canoe in Rapids”


A Poem for April

“An April Night”
by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The moon comes up o’er the deeps of the woods,
And the long, low dingles that hide in the hills,
Where the ancient beeches are moist with buds
Over the pools and the whimpering rills;

And with her the mists, like dryads that creep
From their oaks, or the spirits of pine-hid springs,
Who hold, while the eyes of the world are asleep,
With the wind on the hills their gay revellings.

Down on the marshlands with flicker and glow
Wanders Will-o’-the-Wisp through the night,
Seeking for witch-gold lost long ago
By the glimmer of goblin lantern-light.

The night is a sorceress, dusk-eyed and dear,
Akin to all eerie and elfin things,
Who weaves about us in meadow and mere
The spell of a hundred vanished Springs.

Below – Adolph von Menzel: “Night in the Forest”


Art for April – John Singer Sargent: “Two Girls with Parasols at Fladbury”


Musings in April: William Shakespeare

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”

Below – Jack Vettriano: “The Singing Butler”


Art for April – Elisabeth Sonrel: “Procession of Flora”


Welcome, Wonderful April

Below – Arthur Hughes: “April Love”

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