Idon't know too much about T.S. Eliot (those English Lit. brain cells I acquired during college seem to have succumbed to one too many Barney episodes), but I can say one thing for sure. The man was no boatowner. I mean, listen to this: "April is the cruelest 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."
Dried tubers? Lilacs breeding? Breeding what, cockroaches? It's pretty clear to me that a little Cape Dory sloop or even a spunky Grady-White would have done old T.S. a world of good. No one who owns a boat can see April as a month of false hopes and deceitful rain. Obviously the poet needed to sniff a little bottom paint. Then he too could have looked forward to the rite of spring that we all practice with such tingling joy and sadistic anticipation-sanding boat bottoms, bent over backwards for hours (although I did once watch a guy sand his entire boat's hull while seated beneath it in a lawn chair), stumbling around in strange little white spaceman suits that never fit, genuflecting for days before the altar of brightwork. And, when we're all done, leaning back in the smiling sun and eating Hindenberg-size hoagies-because by God we deserve it after surviving three whole months on dried tubers, bereft of glittery blue water and a boat to sail upon it.
Any boatowner knows the only cruelty in April is writing that tax check, which you know could be put to far better use-like finally putting a roller-furling system on your boat or scoring one of those new four-strokes for your runabout. In every other way, when it comes to owning a boat, April is glory. April is freedom. April is a doorway that March manages to crack open once or twice, letting in a sliver of light, but that spring kicks down like a wild pony who's been penned up too long.
Still, it sounds to me like T.S. really did want to get down to the boatyard for a couple of weekends. That line about "mixing memory and desire" is a dead giveaway-that union is what makes just breathing in April like having a permanent snootful of wine. The guy needed an enabler, someone or something to show him the sheer joy and necessity of ditching work for a day (or even two) while the world is like a cherry blossom ticker-tape parade. And what could be a better enabler than a boat, which has waited so patiently all these months for our adoration and obsession to bloom anew? (Notice I said bloom, not breed.) Sure, there's a lot of work to it, but it beats the hell out of cleaning the gutters one more time. Here is our chance to leave the ordinary world behind and get out on the water again, where life is not little, but as big as the sky, and just as boundless. At least for a while.
Sorry, T.S., but I'm just not buying the idea that it was forgetful snow and shriveled rhizomes keeping us warm lo these many months. It was the promise of April.