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August 22, 2016

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.

Edward Thomas, 1912

COMMENTARY: Edward Thomas began his career as a journalist and an essayist. When he began to write poetry, in his 30’s, his friend and mentor Robert Frost advised him to write his poems as if they were prose: that is with concreteness, directness and swiftness. The result was one of the sparest and most forthright voices in 20th century poetry. No flounce or verbal trampoline. He simply says what happened and what he means in deliberately rough, cobblestone pentameter.

I like the effectiveness of the hammering of the word “rain” here, especially the invocation in the first five lines. He could have communicated the meaning and the image in four or five words (Listening to rain, lonely, thinking of death) but the way he repeats and repeats the central image creates a churning, ruminative quality that, for me, perfectly encapsulates the sense of an engulfing solitude.

One Comment
  1. Love Edward Thomas…

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