Bountiful April: Bashabi Fraser, CBE

Bashabi Fraser
With two conflicting declarations of what you stand for -
‘The cruellest month’[1] and a month of ‘shoures soote’[2]
I come to you April – not forgetting an assassination
Of an epoch-changing good man, or the call for a
Pilgrimage as green shoots bring new hope and fervour
To the devotees of poetry, but bolstered by our own
Manifesto which bridges continents as it recalls
The birth of the bard on the banks of the Avon,
While celebrating the new beginning in Bengal -
As Baisakh[3] is ushered in with Rabindranath’s songs
And rhythms and rituals sanctify the New Year
From the Punjab to Assam, from Kashmir to Kerala.

April is the month when our gaze lifts upwards,
Scanning the horizon for lonely clouds to drift
Across the firmament to coalesce as a colony
Bringing - not April showers - but wild Nor’westers
With the thunder of the gods and the flaming crackle
Of blinding light, breaking the silent darkness with
The drenching promise of renewal and plenty.
So after the chatak[4] has waited with open beak
Through the drought of Chaitra[5], praying for
Reviving rain, it is bountiful April that opens
The floodgates of hope and continuity for poets
To sing rivers to new life and tripping vitality.

[1] T.S. Eliot describes April as the cruellest month in The Waste Land. He wrote it when the  Spanish Flu pandemic ravaged the world. Walt Whitman commemorates the death of Abraham Lincoln in April in ‘The Death of Lincoln’.
[2] From the first line of the ‘Prologue’ to The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.
[3] The first month in the Bengali, Assamese and Tamil calendar, and the coming of spring for people across India.
[4] The pied crested cuckoo.
[5] Chaitra is the last month in the Bengali calendar (and the first month in the Hindu calendar). 

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