William Cowper is in the main correct about both April and life: "It is a sort of April-weather life that we lead in this world. A little sunshine is generally the prelude to a storm." Still, despite its changefulness and "chancefulness" (Thomas Hardy, "The Temporary the All"), I believe that April carries with it an overall sense of blue- and yellow-hued promise.
Wanton with long delay the gay spring leaping cometh;
The blackthorn starreth now his bough on the eve of May:
All day in the sweet box-tree the bee for pleasure hummeth:
The cuckoo sends afloat his note on the air all day.
Now dewy nights again and rain in gentle shower
At root of tree and flower have quenched the winter's drouth.
On high the hot sun smiles, and banks of cloud uptower
In bulging heads that crowd for miles the dazzling south.
Robert Bridges, The Shorter Poems (1896).
Note the internal rhymes within lines (delay/gay, now/bough, et cetera), the combination of end rhymes and internal rhymes across three lines (cometh/starreth/hummeth, shower/flower/uptower), and the internal rhymes across lines (smiles/miles, cloud/crowd).
Adrian Paul Allinson (1890-1959), "The Cornish April"
On my afternoon walk yesterday, I noticed that the tulips are beginning to peak. The daffodils are on the wane. Sidewalks and green lawns are strewn with the fallen creamy-white petals of magnolia trees. April is a series of arrivals and departures.
In the Valley
On this first evening of April
Things look wintry still:
Not a leaf on the tree,
Not a cloud in the sky,
Only a young moon high above the clear green west
And a few stars by and by.
Yet Spring inhabits round like a spirit.
I am sure of it
By the swoon on the sense,
By the dazzle on the eye,
By the long, long sigh that traverses my breast
And yet no reason why.
O lovely Quiet, am I never to be blest?
Time, even now you haste.
Between the lamb's bleat and the ewe's reply
A star has come into the sky.
Sylvia Townsend Warner, Time Importuned (1928).
I hadn't noticed this until I placed the two poems together in this post: "the dazzling south" of Bridges and "the dazzle on the eye" of Warner. And, coincidentally, Warner employs the same technique of end rhymes and internal rhymes across three lines used by Bridges: sky/high/by; eye/sigh/why.
Lucien Pissarro, "April, Epping" (1894)
April's mutability is embodied in the trees: their branches are still mostly bare, but, from a distance, they seem to be enveloped in a yellow-green haze. Mutability and promise. "Nature's first green is gold."
Exactly: where the winter was
The spring has come: I see her now
In the fields, and as she goes
The flowers spring, nobody knows how.
C. H. Sisson, What and Who (Carcanet Press 1994).
Victor Elford, "April Sunshine" (1971)
As long-time (and much-appreciated!) readers of this blog may recall, I have a May poem (Philip Larkin's "The Trees"), a November poem (Wallace Stevens's "The Region November"), and an April poem that I annually revisit in each of those months. Please humor me as we pay a return visit to my April poem.
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 in Kavanagh's Weekly on April 19, 1952.
James McIntosh Patrick (1907-1998), "Glamis Village in April"