Is April Really 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 it is also a time of hope. April may bring showers, but we also have a reason to expect that it will also bring spring flowers. For Eliot, at least when he wrote the poem, nothing was crueler than hope because it always led to disappointment. It was safer for him 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, along the south shore of Lake Ontario, 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 theme of birth and renewal.

We rejoice when tiny buds start to swell on the trees, when we wake up to birdsong; 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 our souls and opening our hearts to ever so many possibilities.

We know that when the daffodils and tulips finally end their run for the year, 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 and tiny, newborn mammals of the animal kingdom running about. April symbolizes youth, but even those of us who are in the autumn and winter of our lives feel happy, young, and energized in April.

During April, I am compelled, despite the outside temperature, to put away the heaviest of winter clothes; clean out the closets.  I 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.

In northern climates the weather is fickle. It rains, sometimes it snows, and it seems as though winter won’t quite lose its icy grip; then there are those grey, cloudy days. But we 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 we expected, there’s always next year.

Hopeless? 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. She has also co-written two additional mysteries with Cozy Cat authors, two non-fiction books, and is a blogger at Ladies of Mystery,  A member of CWA, North America Chapter, and F.L.A.R.E. (Finger Lakes Authors and Readers Experience), she lives with her husband, Lyle, in Sodus Point, NY.  Her books are available in multiple formats at local gift shops and bookstores and at Amazon.


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