These are not April showers, or even downpours; it is simply dropping from the sky steadily, with no sign of a break in the clouds. It feels more like autumn than spring and the tiny plants just showing their leaves above soil warmed in March are flattened to the surface once again.
On a day like this, when the weather lowers the mood and the boredom is hard to counter, what better way to spend the late afternoon hours than browsing poetry on the internet, finding poets never before encountered? That’s what I have been doing; thinking of subjects or themes to start a journey through links and around poetry sites. I tried to ignore it, but as another gust of wind drove raindrops hard against the window and as the sound of cars splashing through puddles in the road outside continued, it was obvious where I should start.
There are many ‘rain’ poems – a lot of them written as nursery rhymes or children’s songs. My favourite of these is Waiting at the Window by A. A Milne:
These are my two drops of rain
Waiting on the window-pane.
I am waiting here to see
Which the winning one will be.
Both of them have different names.
One is John and one is James.
All the best and all the worst
Comes from which of them is first.
James has just begun to ooze.
He’s the one I want to lose.
John is waiting to begin.
He’s the one I want to win.
James is going slowly on.
Something sort of sticks to John.
John is moving off at last.
James is going pretty fast.
John is rushing down the pane.
James is going slow again.
James has met a sort of smear.
John is getting very near.
Is he going fast enough?
(James has found a piece of fluff.)
John has quickly hurried by.
(James was talking to a fly.)
John is there, and John has won!
Look! I told you! Here’s the sun!
It is a poem full of fun, but today there is no sun, and A.A Milne is a tad too cheerful – it would be hard to adopt just one raindrop to race down the window. With the news that our local river – the Tone – has just burst its banks, with predictions that levels will continue to rise until Tuesday it has become easy to feel rain is just a bl**dy nuisance.
However, it is hard to find a poem that doesn’t seem to celebrate the rain in some way, or use it positively in powerful imagery. G.K Chesterton said, ‘And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow’. Although on a day like today I could argue that without the sun there would be no rainbow either, you have to take his point. We would be lost without it.
So I gave in and found a little poem that strikes me as very simple, but expressive of exactly why we should love the rain. The sound of rain is very relaxing, as is running water, and if you think about it gentle drops are like liquid kisses.
Langston Hughes was born in 1902 and died in 1967. A prolific black American poet he was dismissive of other black poets who didn’t embrace their cultural identity and although the following is not apparently his very best work (I am now determined to read more) I still love it.
April Rain Song
By Langston Hughes
Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—
And I love the rain
It might be hard, right now, to love this horrible weather. But come the summer, when the landscape is green, our rivers full and plants thriving we will perhaps forget this miserable month.