Part 2 of our favourite rain images from literature – from Emily Dickinson to Tagore
The poets of England may love their summer, but we can only shake our heads in wonder (The poets of England, it has to be noted, never had rays of a 40 degree sun fall on their shoulders) . So while Shakespeare may compare the place a beloved holds in her lover’s heart with the delight of summer “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” our Indian poets are more likely to ask- “Shall I compare thee to a rainy day?”
Indeed, rain holds such significance in our parched, barren lives. From those working outdoors in the summer months to the men and women dreading that smoke outside their air-conditioned offices, a downpour leaves no heart unstirred. The redolent fragrance of wet earth brings in a sudden gush of memories, the balcony shouts out with joy as one watches the rain, and the stray urban birds look downright adorable drenched in the first downpour of the season, their feathers upturned like a men’s hair gel ad. There is an urge to start life anew as if all the yesterdays are washed away, filling one’s mind with hope and optimism. The cup of tea besides the notepad, and the errant pen urge words and thoughts to flow uncensored. Never is nature closer to the human spirit than during a sudden rains shower after the scorching heat in summers.
Rain has always touched the heart-strings and, produced the magic of music. Rain acts as the catalyst to great creativity in the artist and the writer, and rain poems are an entire sub genre of longing and dreams.
Rain melts away the hard shell of bitterness one begins to wear after interacting with the cruel ways of the world. Here are some of our favourite poems about rain. Just read Lucretius as he talks about rain as a salve:
“The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling”!
To Leonard Cohen, rain represents hope, an optimistic belief in a better world.
“I don’t consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin”.
Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s words highlight the ‘omnipotence’ of rain. Rain doesn’t need an invitation, all it needs is a patch of grass.
“I am like the rain: I go where I’m needed”.
Katherine Mansfield, ever the modernist, believes in simplicity before poetry
And what of Emily Dickinson, the Patron Saint of ‘Girls That Feel Too Much and Love Too Deep. Her ‘Summer Shower’ captures the exuberance of nature brought forth by the rains in summer.
“A few went out to help the brook,
That went to help the sea.
Myself conjectured, Were they pearls,
What necklaces could be!”
Trust Walt Whitman to turn the life giving properties of rain into a stirring ballad.
“And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form’d, altogether changed, and
yet the same,
I descend to lave the droughts, atomies, dust-layers of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn;
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin,
and make pure and beautify it;
(For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wandering,
Reck’d or unreck’d, duly with love returns.”
Sometimes the clockwork precision of life needs a moment of madness. The mundane needs the incredible. And the endless summer needs the surprise and disorder of rain. The quiet hallways of schools need children- unfettered for a moment- to jump on puddles of water, to make paper boats and let their imagination run wild with poetic frenzy. This tussle between everyday calm and the romance of rain is best described by Tagore.
Really, rain is all about embracing every single messy piece of you, those crazy droplets and puddles and streaks that together make your happy self, those clouds that threaten and beguile in equal measure
Once they pour, they pour in abundance and the best part is they don’t retreat. That’s the thing about rain and poetry!
Read Part 1 here.
Gargee Baruah – part of our MBRB Young Voices Program- is a Masters student from University of Delhi, studying Literature in English from Jesus and Mary College. She is a day-dreamer, a lost soul who is often drunk on poetry,who loves to dance. She is passionately chaotic in her mind, and tries to maintain a little discipline daily only to fail repeatedly. She absolutely loves the stage!
Photo Credit: NeilHallPix