A Rune Of The Rain

A poem by George Parsons Lathrop

O many-toned rain!
O myriad sweet voices of the rain!
How welcome is its delicate overture
At evening, when the moist and glowing west
Seals all things with cool promise of night's rest.

At first it would allure
The earth to kinder mood,
With dainty flattering
Of soft, sweet pattering:
Faintly now you hear the tramp
Of the fine drops, falling damp
On the dry, sun-seasoned ground
And the thirsty leaves, resound.
But anon, imbued
With a sudden, bounding access
Of passion, it relaxes
All timider persuasion.
And, with nor pretext nor occasion,
Its wooing redoubles;
And pounds the ground, and bubbles
In sputtering spray,
Flinging itself in a fury
Of flashing white away;
Till the dusty road,
Dank-perfumed, is o'erflowed;
And the grass, and the wide-hung trees,
The vines, the flowers in their beds, -
The virid corn that to the breeze
Rustles along the garden-rows, -
Visibly lift their heads,
And, as the quick shower wilder grows,
Upleap with answering kisses to the rain.

Then, the slow and pleasant murmur
Of its subsiding,
As the pulse of the storm beats firmer,
And the steady rain
Drops into a cadenced chiding!
Deep-breathing rain,
The sad and ghostly noise
Wherewith thou dost complain - -
Thy plaintive, spiritual voice,
Heard thus at close of day
Through vaults of twilight gray -
Vexes me with sweet pain;
And still my soul is fain
To know the secret of that yearning
Which in thine utterance I hear returning.
Hush, oh hush!
Break not the dreamy rush
Of the rain:
Touch not the marring doubt
Words bring to the certainty
Of its soft refrain;
But let the flying fringes flout
Their drops against the pane,
And the gurgling throat of the water-spout
Groan in the eaves amain.

The earth is wedded to the shower;
Darkness and awe gird round the bridal hour!


O many-toned rain!
It hath caught the strain
Of a wilder tune,
Ere the same night's noon,
When dreams and sleep forsake me,
And sudden dread doth wake me,
To hear the booming drums of heaven beat
The long roll to battle; when the knotted cloud,
With an echoing loud,
Bursts asunder
At the sudden resurrection of the thunder;
And the fountains of the air,
Unsealed again, sweep, ruining, everywhere,
To wrap the world in a watery winding-sheet.


O myriad sweet voices of the rain!
When the airy war doth wane,
And the storm to the east hath flown,
Cloaked close in the whirling wind,
There's a voice still left behind
In each heavy-hearted tree,
Charged with tearful memory
Of the vanished rain:
From their leafy lashes wet
Drip the dews of fresh regret
For the lover that's gone!
All else is still;
Yet the stars are listening,
And low o'er the wooded hill
Hangs, upon listless wing
Outspread, a shape of damp, blue cloud,
Watching, like a bird of evil
That knows nor mercy nor reprieval,
The slow and silent death of the pallid moon.


But soon, returning duly,
Dawn whitens the wet hilltops bluely.
To her vision pure and cold
The night's wild tale is told
On the glistening leaf, in the mid-road pool,
The garden mold turned dark and cool,
And the meadows' trampled acres.
But hark, how fresh the song of the winged music-makers!
For now the moanings bitter,
Left by the rain, make harmony
With the swallow's matin-twitter,
And the robin's note, like the wind's in a tree.
The infant morning breathes sweet breath,
And with it is blent
The wistful, wild, moist scent
Of the grass in the marsh which the sea nourisheth:
And behold!
The last reluctant drop of the storm,
Wrung from the roof, is smitten warm
And turned to gold;
For in its veins doth run
The very blood of the bold, unsullied sun!

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