April

The month is sacred to Venus. Horace assumes it in Odes IV.11, when he invites Phyllis to a party:

ut tamen noris quibus advoceris
gaudiis, Idus tibi sunt agendae,
qui dies mensem Veneris marinae
findit Aprilem…

¶  But so you may know what is the revel
you are invited to, you are to celebrate the Ides,
the day that splits in two the month
of Venus the sea-born: April!

Ovid insists on it: and in the introduction to Book Four of the Fasti, he even strays into philology to argue that this is Venus’s month. There are people, he says, who would derive the name Aprilis from the word aperio, for it denotes the time when spring opens all things, and the earth lies open and fertile. Which may be true, but the name Aprilis, he says, comes from Aphrodite, her Greek name, and it was the early Greek immigrants—whom he lists in great numbers—that gave the month her name.

Anyway, he says, what other month could belong to her?

nec Veneri tempus, quam ver, erat aptius ullum:
vere nitent terrae, vere remissus ager;
nunc herbae rupta tellure cacumina tollunt,
nunc tumido gemmas cortice palmes agit.
et formosa Venus formoso tempore digna est,
utque solet, Marti continuata suo est.
vere monet curvas materna per aequora puppes
ire nec hibernas iam timuisse minas.

¶  And no season was more fitting for Venus than the spring:
in spring the lands glow, in spring the soil is soft;
now the crops break through the ground and raise their shoots,
now the vine shoot makes the bark swell and pushes out its buds.
Lovely Venus is worthy of a lovely season,
and as usual, she is attached to her lover Mars.
In spring she tells the curved ships to cross the waves of her birth
and no longer to fear the menaces of winter.

Modern Italians have kept the tradition:

Non senti tu ne l’aria
il profumo che spande primavera?
Non senti tu ne l’anima
il suon de nova voce lusinghiera?
È l’April! È la stagion d’amore!
Deh! vieni, o mia gentil
su’ prati’n fiore!

Il piè trarrai fra mammole,
avrai su’l petto rose e cilestrine,
e le farfalle candide
t’aleggeranno intorno al nero crine.
È l’April! È la stagion d’amore!
Deh! vieni, o mia gentil
su’ prati’n fiore!

¶  Don’t you feel on the air
the perfume that wafts of spring?
Don’t you feel in your heart
the sound of a new voice alluring?
It’s April! It’s the season of love!
Oh come, my dear one,
to the meadows in bloom!

Your walk will lead among violets,
you’ll be wreathed in roses and harebells,
and the shining white butterflies
will flit around your dark hair.
It’s April! It’s the season of love!
Oh come, my dear one,
to the meadows in bloom!

Click to hear Luciano Pavarotti singing it:

Aprile (Paolo Tosti), Pavarotti