Thursday, October 25, 2007

And I Love the Rain

It is autumn now. October. It's been raining since before I woke up yesterday morning, with only an occasional break now and again for the clouds to catch their breath.

Seasonally, of course, the poem that came to mind is all wrong. The one that popped into my head, the one I quoted the final line of as the subject line to this post, is "April Rain Song" by Langston Hughes. But in truth, it's only the title of Hughes's poem that has to do with the springtime.

I first wrote about this poem earlier this year during National Poetry Month, as part of a review of The Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children's Poems, edited by Donald Hall. And today, as I looked outside at the wet and half-lit day, my first thought was "ugh, more rain." But then I thought of all those folks in California who have had to flee their homes before the fires being spread by the Santa Ana winds; fires that are made particular awful this year by the paucity of rain. And I was grateful for the rain.

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.

In the prior post, I noted a bit about the structure of this poem, and today, I'd like to go a bit further with that. When I did school visits earlier this year, kids really loved this poem. If I asked them what they thought the most important part of the poem was, they all agreed it was that last line, "And I love the rain." And many of them could tell me why they thought so. I'm going to share my thoughts on it now

1. Like the cheese, that last line stands alone. Setting something apart like that gives it emphasis and weight.

2. It is one of the shortest lines in the poem (tied with the very first line at 5 words). Something that is so much shorter than what is around it stands out, and gains extra importance.

3. It is the only line spoken in first person. The first three are in second person, directing the listener. "Let the rain . . ." The second three are in third person, describing what the rain does. That last line is all about the speaker.

4. It is the only line that isn't about the rain at all: it's about how the speaker feels about the rain. It gets extra weight (again) for being singular in its perspective and emotion.

That last reason was the one that the kids grabbed onto immediately, even if they sometimes phrased it a little differently. They heard that line, "And I love the rain," and they knew that all the rest of the poem was there as a justification for that last line; that the last line was the key to the whole poem. The rest of the poem explains why the speaker loves the rain with its gentle imagery of kisses and lullabyes and the playing of sleep-songs. It talks of what the rain does. But that final, singular, first-person line that tells how the speaker feels about the rain is the reason for the poem.

To check out Anna Dewdney's snowflake and to get the links for the other snowflakes featured in the blogosphere today, click on the Robert's Snow button to the left, which will direct you to the listing over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Jules and Eisha have also posted an ongoing list of blog posts thus far featuring snowflakes and the artists who created them.

While you're at 7-Imp, don't miss today's post in which they interview the members of fictional farm animal band Punk Farm. The band is composed of Cow, Sheep, Pig, Goat, and Chicken, all of whom get a chance to discuss life on the road with Jules and Eisha. Their "manager," author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka, is nowhere to be seen in this interview. This is truly one of my favorite interviews they've ever done, and that is saying something.


Rain Rippe said...

Hey there!!! I am 12 years old and my name is Rain. I love it when it rains!!! When it just sprinkles, it does not count as raining. It has to POUR to acctually be considered raining in my perspective. April Rain Song is a poem that I have to study for english homework. Thank you very much. Your blog post really helped me understand and desifer it more.

Kelly Fineman said...

Thanks for the comment, Rain - your picture with your dog is adorable! And good luck on your homework!

yvonne van wensveen said...

It was wonderful at nealy 80 years of age to discover "And I Love the Rain".

I will follow your analyses with interest in the future.