April poems, an homage

Courtesy of Yoksel 🌿 Zok, Unsplash

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” Sonnet XCVIII,  William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets



Second April

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
From orchards near and far away
The gray wood-pecker taps and bores,
And men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep;
Noisy and swift the small brooks run.
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun
Pensively; only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep

Edna St. Vincent Milay

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Lanston Hughes

April

If you had come away with me
into another state
we had been quiet together.
But there the sun coming up
out of the nothing beyond the lake was
too low in the sky,
there was too great a pushing
against him,
too much of sumac buds, pink
in the head
with the clear gum upon them,
too many opening hearts of lilac leaves,
too many, too many swollen
limp poplar tassels on the
bare branches!
It was too strong in the air.
I had no rest against that
springtime!
The pounding of the hoofs on the
raw sods
stayed with me half through the night.
I awoke smiling but tired.

William Carlos Williams

Elegy in April and September
.
Hush, thrush! Hush, missen-thrush, I listen…
I heard the flush of footsteps through the loose leaves,
And a low whistle by the water’s brim.Still! Daffodil! Nay, hail me not so gaily,-
Your gay gold lily daunts me and deceives,
Who follow gleams more golden and more slim.Look, brook! O run and look, O run!
The vain reeds shook? – Yet search till gray sea heaves,
And I will stray among these fields for him.

Gaze, daisy! Stare through haze and glare,
And mark the hazardous stars all dawns and eves,
For my eye withers, and his star wanes dim.

2

Close, rose, and droop, heliotrope,
And shudder, hope! The shattering winter blows.
Drop, heliotrope, and close, rose…

Mourn, corn, and sigh, rye.
Men garner you, but youth’s head lies forlorn.
Sigh, rye, and mourn, corn…

Brood, wood, and muse, yews,
The ways gods use we have not understood.
Muse, yews, and brood, wood..

– Wilfred Owen


Jamie Dedes:

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“Such, Such Is Death” – Poems in honor the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War 1

An artificial corn poppy, made of plastic and cardboard by disabled ex-servicemen, worn in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries from late October to Remembrance Sunday in support of the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal and to remember those servicemen and women who died in war. Wearing poppies to remember the war dead comes from the poem In Flanders’ Fields by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae which concludes with the line “We shall not sleep, though poppies grow, In Flanders fields”. Although originally worn to commemorate those who fell in the First World War, poppies are also worn for the fallen of every conflict since. / Public Domain photograph’ legend courtesy of Wikipedia

 

“I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense conciliatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.” Wilfred Owen



This Sunday (tomorrow) is the 100 Anniversary of the end of World War 1, also called “the great war” and “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, World War 1 didn’t end violent conflict. Regional skirmishes and wars flared and twenty-one years later, we earthlings were fighting World War II, which some hypothesize is a war that never really ended.

This anniversary is celebrated in many countries, variously as Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day, and Veterans Day.

The poets bearing witness are Charles Hamilton Sorley, Wilfred Owen, and A.E. Houseman.  Charles and Wilfred both died in World War 1. All three poets are English.


SUCH, SUCH IS DEATH

·

Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat:

Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean,

A merciful putting away of what has been.

And this we know: Death is not Life, effete,

Life crushed, the broken pail. We who have seen

So marvellous things know well the end not yet.

Victor and vanquished are a-one in death:

Coward and brave: friend, foe. Ghosts do not say,

“Come, what was your record when you drew breath?”

But a big blot has hid each yesterday

So poor, so manifestly incomplete.

And your bright Promise, withered long and sped,

Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet

And blossoms and is you, when you are dead.

– Charles Hamilton Sorley·

TO GERMANY (1914)

You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
But gropers both through fields of thought confined
We stumble and we do not understand.
You only saw your future bigly planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each other’s dearest ways we stand,
And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind.

When it is peace, then we may view again
With new-won eyes each other’s truer form
And wonder. Grown more loving-kind and warm
We’ll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

– Charles Hamilton Sorley


Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime …
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under I green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

– Wlfred Owen


Here Dead We Lie

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

– A.E. Houseman


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and the associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The River Journal, The Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman