April is the Cruelest Month

Updated July 24, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

Where does the quote "April is the cruelest month" come from?

The Answer:

This is the first line of T. S. Eliot's poem "The Waste Land." Some consider this poem, published in 1922, to be the greatest of the 20th century.

Here is the beginning of the poem.

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.

For the complete text see The Burial of the Dead from The Waste Land

-The Editors

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