Tag Archives: Edna St. Vincent Millay


I listened to the Airborne Toxic Event album. It’s called Tales of God and Whiskey. It’s not bad! One title caught my eye. It was April is the Cruelest Month. Being April, I played it first.

I’m really bad about getting lyrics out of listening to a song. It’s usually dozens, if not more, listenings before I pay more than cursory attention to the lyrics. Sorry, lyricists!

But ‘April is the cruelest month’ is a quote from somewhere. I thought it was Eliot and I was right. Here’s an excerpt, posted on goodreads.com, from The Waste Land:

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.

Right below the Eliot quote are two poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. The second hit me right between the eyes:

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers