THE VOICE OF THE RAIN
THE VOICE OF THE RAIN
– Walt Whitman
The Voice of the Rain is a poem that celebrates rain and its natural-cycle for the benefit of earth and the life it supports.
The poem begins with the poet asking for the identity of the soft-falling rain shower. Much to the surprise of the poet, the rain replies to his question. And, the poet translates this ‘voice’ of the rain for his readers.
The rain identifies itself as the ‘Poem of Earth’. It says that it rises from the land and the deep sea, in the form of the intangible water vapours, and goes up to the immeasurable sky. It then takes the form of clouds with various shapes. Although it changes in its form and shape, its core existence remains the same.
It descends or falls on the surface of the earth to eliminate droughts, wash away the tiny particles and settle down the dust-layers. It reinvigorates the dry lands and gives life to the seeds that, otherwise, would have remained dormant and unborn. Thus, the rain drops rise in the form of vapours only to come back to its origin in the form of rain. During this cycle, it purifies and beautifies (by nourishing the unborn seeds) the planet.
The last two lines of the poem are the poet’s reflection upon the answer given by the rain. The poet observes that the life of rain is similar to that of a song. A song originates from the heart of the poet, travels to reach others and after fulfilling its purpose (whether acknowledged or not), it returns to the poet with all due love. Similarly, the rain rises from the land and oceans, wanders, fulfills its purpose of nourishing life and purifying the planet, and then returns to its birth-place.
Think It Out
1. There are two voices in the poem. Who do they belong to? Which lines indicate this?
2. What does the phrase “strange to tell” mean?
3. There is a parallel drawn between rain and music. Which words indicate this? Explain the similarity between the two.
4. How is the cyclic movement of rain brought out in the poem? Compare it with what you have learnt in science.
5. Why are the last two lines put within brackets?
6. List the pair of opposites found in the poem.
1. The two voices in the poem are the voice of the rain and the voice of the poet. The poem begins in a conversational tone. The lines are “And who art thou? Said I ……..” and ‘I am the poem of Earth’.
2. The phrase ‘strange to tell’ means that it is an unusual and extraordinary answer given by the rain drops to the poet who asked who ‘it was’.
3. 'I am the poem of Earth’
‘For song, issuing from its birth place
After fulfillment, wandering, reck’d orUnreck’d, duly with love returns. They both return to the place of their origin after fulfilling their tasks.
4. The poet explains that the rain drops in the form of water vapour rise up from land and sea and then descend again on the earth and dry land in order to wash it down and hence comes back to its origin. This is the cyclic movement explained by the poet.
5. The last two lines are put within brackets because they do not form the voice of the rain or the poet. They only contain a general observation made by the poet about the course of a song.
6. (a) Day, night
(b) Reck’d, unreck’d
(c) Rise, descend
2. Notice the following sentence patterns.
1. And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower.
2. I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain.
3. Eternal I rise
4. For song…duly with love returns
Rewrite the above sentences in prose.
1. I enquired the soft-falling rain about its identity.
2. The voice of the rain introduced itself as the Poem of Earth.
3. The voice of the rain explained its upward movement towards the sky as eternal.
4. The poet says that, similar to the natural cycle of the rain, a song originates from the heart of the poet, travels to reach others and after fulfilling its purpose (whether acknowledged or not), it returns to the poet with all due love.