The following poem is my April poem. Given the climate of the Pacific Northwest, the odds are not long that I will visit "Wet Evening in April" on a wet evening in April. And so it is.
Wet Evening in April
The birds sang in the wet trees
And as I listened to them it was a hundred years from now
And I was dead and someone else was listening to them.
But I was glad I had recorded for him the melancholy.
Patrick Kavanagh, Collected Poems (edited by Antoinette Quinn) (Penguin 2004). The poem was first published on April 19, 1952.
I cannot say enough about the beauty of this poem. Which means that I should keep my mouth shut.
Lucien Pissarro, "April, Epping" (1894)
March, April, and May: they are not as wistful as September, October, and November, but they still have a high wistfulness quotient. Last week I was walking down a city street when, after a gust of wind, the air was suddenly filled with white and pink cherry blossom petals. For just an instant I thought they were snow flurries (usuyuki in Japanese -- a lovely word).
Flowers and Moonlight on the Spring River
The evening river is level and motionless --
The spring colours just open to their full.
Suddenly a wave carries the moon away
And the tidal water comes with its freight of stars.
Yang-Ti (translated by Arthur Waley), in Arthur Waley, One Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems (1918).
Lucien Pissarro, "The Dunmow Road from Tilty Wood" (1915)
Of course, we ought not to get carried away in wistfulness, like the moon on a wave. Which is not to say that wistfulness is a bad thing. One can be wistful and perfectly content. Some occasions call for it. To wit: standing in place as cherry blossom petals (and, in due time, sere leaves) spin down to the ground all around you.
That man's life is but a dream --
Is what we now come to know.
Its house abandoned,
the garden has become home
Sogi (1421-1502) (translated by Steven Carter), in Steven Carter, Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology (Stanford University Press 1991).
Lucien Pissarro, "The Garden Gate, Epping" (1894)