Is April the Cruelest Month? by Karen Shughart

In the poem, The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot writes, “April is the cruelest month….”

The month of April is a time of birth and renewal, and a time of hope. April may bring showers, but we have a reasonable expectation that it will also bring spring flowers. For Eliot, at least when he wrote the poem, nothing was crueler than hope because for him it often led to disappointment. It was safer to hold on tightly to cynicism and pessimism, because then he wouldn’t get hurt.

For most of us, though, April is not cruel at all.  If you live where I do, in the north, April is a time of anticipation, a time when we believe that, as Alexander Pope wrote in An Essay on Man, “hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Hopefulness, despite our challenges and disappointments, continues to renew itself.  Even the holidays observed by various cultures and religions this time of year celebrate the themes of birth, renewal, and hope.

We rejoice when tiny buds start to swell on the trees, when we wake up to birdsong, and daylight lasts longer. We delight in the first sight of bright yellow daffodils and brilliant-colored tulips  as they stretch towards the sun.  And the sun, weak and pale in the winter, shines brightly now, warming our bodies and souls and expanding our hearts to ever so many possibilities.

Photo by Jacek Mleczek on

We know that when the daffodils and tulips finally end their run for the year, we have a reasonable expectation that they’ll be back next year, and other flowers will follow. When we plant our gardens, at some point we will harvest what we sow. Soon, we’ll be seeing baby birds peeping out of nests; ducklings, cygnets and goslings swimming with determination behind their attentive parents; and tiny, newborn animals scurrying about. April, the spring, symbolizes youth, but even those of us who are in the autumn and winter of our lives can feel happy, young, and energized.

In northern climates the weather in April is fickle. It rains, sometimes it snows, and at times it seems as though winter won’t quite lose its icy grip; then there are those intermittent grey, cloudy days. Regardless of what Mother Nature throws our way, I am compelled to put away the heaviest of winter clothes, clean out the closets, and plan menus around seasonal foods with lighter ingredients.  I start to make a list of things I want to do to get ready for summer. I always know the rain will stop, the snow will melt, and the grey, cloudy days will be followed by brilliant sun. If April isn’t quite what I expected, there’s always next year.

Cruel? I think not. After April comes May with more abundance,  even warmer days, and the anticipation of summer.

Karen Shughart is the author of the Edmund DeCleryk cozy mystery series, published by Cozy Cat Press

2 thoughts on “Is April the Cruelest Month? by Karen Shughart

  1. I will say that this year, I may agree with T.S. Eliot. LOL This April seems to be lasting forever and it just this weekend gave me a peek at a few buttercups. But after two days in the 60s we are back to the 30s for another week. I will not complain when we are near 100 most of the summer! Well written post!


  2. April may soon become known as the most erratic month. Last week we were in the 80s on the East Coast, and today we’re back to “normal,” drizzly weather in the 40s. The rows of daffodils cheer me up with their promise of more to come.


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