Tale of the Catchy Phrase



April is a lovely and distinctive month in the Dallas. Lawns are shedding their winter doldrums and treating everyone to the beauty of renewal. It’s the time when we make our ritualistic treks to big-box garden stores, lugging home trays of colorful annuals to fill our flowerbeds.


Although we don’t hibernate like bears, we do spend the winter, for the most part, hunkered down, bundled up and feeling sluggish. By April, coats have given way to shorts and T shirts, and the dark skies have been replaced by sunshine and air conditioning.


The average annual rainfall in Dallas is 37.1 inches, and the chances of us having a wet day in April fluctuates between 24 and 33 percent. And, “April showers bring May flowers.”


The saying is largely credited to an English poet and farmer, Thomas Tusser. The line appears in the man’s collection of writings from 1557, “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry.” In Tusser’s poems also appear two other sayings popular in our vernacular today. The first is “A fool and his money soon go separate ways.” The other is “Make cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.”


Although Tusser left us quips still used after more than 450 years, he didn’t coin the April showers rhyme. That honor belongs to Geoffrey Chaucer. The saying appears in the first line of the general prologue of “The Cantebury Tales,” penned in 1392. Yes, 1392. His collection of stories – a mix of satire and realism – was so popular in Medieval England, 90 copies still exist today.


Reading these verses in their original form is challenging, however translations are at our fingertips. But whether we stumble and mumble through the original language or breeze easily through the translations, one thing is clear: this is about the hope that happiness comes again to our lives after discomfort.