The Germans are fond of saying “April, April, der macht was er will.”
April, April, he does what he wants.
In Germany, April gets a bad rap for its weather. That is saying a lot in a country where cold drizzle falling from skies imbued with more than fifty shades of grey is as ubiquitous as mullet hairstyles at a @realDonaldTrump stump speech or a Texas rodeo.
In German, April is a man, like all the months of the year. April should be a woman, the idea of doing what “she wants” might be a little closer to reality, but the Germans sometimes do things backwards. In German the sun is a woman, and fifty-two is two and fifty. Twain can explain the intricacies of the German language better.
April has always been a subject for English poets, going all the way back to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales of the late 14th century
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú engendred is the flour.
Translation: April showers bring May flowers.
Arthur Symons wrote in “April Midnight” that the weather in April is “miraculous”, as the cobblestones in London glistened with rainwater sending his romantic heart aflutter. I suppose for the Brits real rain rather than drizzle is miraculous. Germany does not have such a problem with getting enough real rain or fluttering, romantic hearts.
The month of April did not avoid the peering eyes of the Bard. Shakespeare also used the month in “The Winter’s Tale”, when he penned
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty: violets, dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno’s eyes
Or Cytherea’s breath: pale primroses
That die unmarried, ere they can behold
Bright Phoebus in his strength—a malady
Most incident to maids: bold oxlips and
The crown imperial: lilies of all kinds,
The flower-de-luce being one.
(Act IV, Scene 4, lines 136-45)
This year Shakespeare’s observations are certainly true. The daffodils came early and took their chances with the strong March winds. I have, however, seen a few swallows already, yet I remember Aristotle said that “a swallow does not a summer make”. We must still get through April before we can expect any real warmth of summer.
Who can forget the opening lines of T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”? The first lines of his seminal song set the scene for what is to come,
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Eliot’s darkness took him away from the unbridled enthusiasm of America and back to England, where he found solace in the cold dampness as he refused to visit his wife in a mental hospital for the final nine years of her life. “Eliot is the cruellest man, brooding…”
There is German poem by Heinrich Seidel which has a slight variation on April. It says “April! April! He does not know what he wants.” This makes more sense because German guys rarely know what they want, though they know what they do not want, which is committing themselves to marriage.
Finally, about April, Chaucer wrote the story “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales. The story began on the 32nd of March; he was no April’s Fool. If a person wants to spend a day outside in April in Germany, he would be a fool unless he has prepared himself for a shivering wind and rain, followed by intense periods of steamy sunshine, all within an hour.
I enjoy the weather in April, so I earnestly shout, “April! April! Do what you want!”