April is the Cruellest Month…


Most days were grey – either cold, damp and dreary, or drenched in heavy rain and dense Scotch mist. But from time to time the sun shone, and then Algy found a perch where he could feel a wee bit warmer and drier, and watch the play of light on the sea or the wee burn which had found itself a new path across the beach, twisting in and out of the masses of rock in a mysteriously elaborate pattern.

It was undoubtedly spring; the light was much stronger, the days were much longer, and the skylarks were singing merrily above the sand dunes… and yet the air was cold and the wind was sharp. Algy was inevitably reminded of T. S. Eliot’s famous opening lines from The Waste Land:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

[Algy is quoting the opening lines of that most famous of early 20th century poems, The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot.]


It was also lilac time in his friends’ garden, and Algy loves lilacs perhaps best of all the flowering shrubs. So he settled himself among the lovely pannicles of flowers and dozed off contentedly in the bright sunshine, drinking in the heady lilac scent. Some lines from T. S. Eliot’s poem Portrait of a Lady drifted through his mind:

          Now that lilacs are in bloom
          She has a bowl of lilacs in her room
          And twists one in her fingers while she talks.
          “Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know
          What life is, you who hold it in your hands”;
          (Slowly twisting the lilac stalks)
         “You let it flow from you, you let it flow,
          And youth is cruel, and has no remorse
          And smiles at situations which it cannot see.”
          I smile, of course,
          And go on drinking tea.
          “Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall
          My buried life, and Paris in the Spring,
          I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world
          To be wonderful and youthful, after all.”

[Algy is thinking of the first stanza in part II of Portrait of a Lady by T. S. Eliot.]

The wind was bitterly cold and dark clouds were gathering overhead, but Algy felt in need of some rest and relaxation. He settled himself on a mass of old honeysuckle stems for an afternoon of peaceful reading, but discovered that the wind had other ideas …

Although Algy is not entirely happy about cats, he does enjoy reading about them safely in a book. This is what he read:

         Jellicle Cats are black and white,
         Jellicle Cats are rather small;
         Jellicle Cats are merry and bright,
         And pleasant to hear when they caterwaul.
         Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces,
         Jellicle Cats have bright black eyes;
         They like to practise their airs and graces
         And wait for the Jellicle Moon to rise.

[Algy is reading The Song of the Jellicles from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot.]