norbert blei | variations on the theme of april

19 04 2010

Poetry Dispatch No. 319 | April 19, 2010

Variations on the Theme of April

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

(excerpt from Chaucer’s General Prologue to THE CANTERBURY TALES)

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.

(excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s, THE WASTE LAND)

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and


balloonMan whistles

(from e.e. cummings, a selection of poems)




15 responses

20 04 2010
George Bisbee

Another stunning photograph to depict the time and place of April. Quiet Water. Be Like Water.

20 04 2010
Jean Casey

…and it’s the month when a lone wild male turkey displays over and over again in the north meadow, fanning his magnificent tail, not one unfolded feather, no blemish on his manhood, but she does not appear. The whimsy of April.

20 04 2010
Bobbie Krinsky

hands down, I cast my vote for e.e. cummings’ puddle wonderful! xx, bobbie

20 04 2010
steve fortney

glad to see you back in the saddle.
april has been benign here.

20 04 2010
Alice D'Alessio

I second the vote for ee cummings! Always wonderful!

20 04 2010
Norbert Blei

I planned to write an intro for these three selections yesterday, but was still feeling with/dealing with the ‘fuzzy mind’ and exhaustion of my current health issue so I let it go without commentary.

The comments thus far concerning cummings, however, have awakened my passions for this poet.

Not feeling much better today, but here’s some of what was on my mind regarding the e.e.cummings and “in Just…” This goes back to my stint of high school teaching in the early to mid-6o’s. This poem (and other work by cummings) was always a joy to teach…or shall we say present to a class of young students who may have dismissed poetry for all the usual (and wrong) reasons but were still open to the right poem, right poet, rightly taught. I knew in my bones I was born to both teach and write. So ‘ll get that out of the way right here, without patting myself on the back too much. I knew how important this poem was at that time in a young person’s life.

Cummings often proved the gateway–for all the right reasons: joy, passion, word play, image, idea, humor…the pure excitement of poetry coming alive on the page, in the air. This poem may not a great stretch of the poetry-mind…but if you’re looking for conversion in the classroom (that could last a lifetime, cummings was/is the man–along with a handful of others, Sandburg included, in my book.

I can never read this poem again without my memories of the classroom…young students loving the sound of the words.

I am probably in the minority of readers out there who can say: I saw e.e.cummings read this poem from the stage of an old Chicago theater in the 60’s. I saw him not so much read it, as perform it (back in a time when performance was one thing and reading a poem another).

On second thought…he really didn’t read the poem—he sang it. He danced it across the stage. He was Pan. And the music of words was everywhere.

I’m getting goose pimples just recalling this.

There. I feel better already.

Thanks for the memories.

norbert blei

21 04 2010
GE Wamser

You don’t sound “fuzzy” nor “sick” to me you old buffalo! Even on medication you are still more interesting to read than 99% of the crap on the net. And incedentially, i have my cummings book ( the complete works) ALWAYS at my side for instant refreshment, for whenever I go “stale”… When I used to tutor college level football players (it spreads from one to the whole team by word of mouth) in literature and poetry, I can relate to seeing the “lightbulb of understanding and wonder” light up in the students eyes, when he figures out some obscure passage from Emily Dickenson, or the true meaning of ice cold revenge in an EA Poe tale…and it is a thing to behold! As are you my friend, take care!
George W.

21 04 2010
Alice D'Alessio

Love it! I can see him dancing across the stage! How I wish I could click on a You-Tube, or go to Google for a reprise…A.

21 04 2010

Unwanted April

How dare those trees show off in flower
How dare that dawn arrive so soon
How dare the skies go grey and shower
How dare young curs howl at the Moon
Winter gave such brave cold cover
I could atone for frigid heart
How dare come Spring when I can’t love her
How, with no will, dare I restart?

April 11, 2010

21 04 2010
Judy Amberg

Norb, thanks for the memories. I recall being a student in the classroom, “loving the sound” of “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful!

22 04 2010
Barbara Fitz Vroman

Good to have you slinging poets, and poetry and memories across
the space to your “followers” as each of us favor our own Aprils. Be well.

22 04 2010
mary ann crayton

Oh so good to have you back. It truly is puddle wonderful. How could it be any other than ee!!

22 04 2010
MaryAnn Grzych

cummings gets four stars, but your photo–oh, that’s the full five!!

22 04 2010
Jerry Bitts

Stay well, Norb. Yes, a commings classic. –and Chaucer’s English has a great sound. Then “There will come soft rains and the smell of the grass—

22 04 2010
Dylan Tweney

e. e. cummings doesn’t have a sterling reputation among “serious” poets, I guess, but I loved this poem when I was a kid, and again when I was in college, and I still love it now.

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