A Seasonal Collection: Rain

Is there any music sweeter than the sound of rain at night? Is there anywhere anything to subtle and so matter of fact, so secretive and so talkative as rain in the night? Are our ears so indifferent that we only react to streetcar bells, cannon blasts or symphony concerts? Do we no longer hear the symphonies of the thousand droplets that prattle and rattle on the pavement by night, that whisper lustfully against windows and roof-tiles, that softly strum and drum fairy tales on the leaves under which the millions of flies have crawled, that drop and plot onto our shoulders through our thin summer clothes or gurgle with tiny gong beats into the stream? Do we no longer hear anything but our own loud ballyhoo?

Wolfgang Borchert (1921-1947)

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Laura Knight - Storm over our town, Malvern

Storm over our town, MalvernLaura Knight (1877 – 1970)

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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 this 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 for what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.

‘Rain’ by Edward Thomas

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“I sit in the dark and listen to the storm. I hear the bitter clatter of rain against my walls, and the low book of the wind, a strange unsettling frequency that makes the bones in my skull vibrate.

My ears exult in the glorious accumulating noise, my blood foams with the energy of the storm. The world outside is trying to reach me, roused from its usual indifference. It drags its claws along the bars of my cage. It puts its mouth to my wall, and roars.

My body has learned to sit quietly in my room. It has learned not to scream or sob or writhe. But my spirit swirls lie the wind, surges lie the rain. The wildness outside calls to the wildness within.

‘I hear you,’ I cry out in my mind. ‘I’m here, keep going, don’t stop’

From ‘Girl in the Dark’ by Anna Lyndsey

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Wet Afternoon by Ethel Spowers

Wet Afternoon by Ethel Spowers (1890 – 1947)

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We had worked so hard, and the time had flown so quickly, we had not even looked into one of the other rooms, let alone prepared one of them for sleeping in. But the floor we had scrubbed was now dry, so we put our mattresses down on it, as close to the stove as we dared, and touching each other. We had no sheets, but the blankets seemed to have been well aired. We were warm and comfortable and happy, and too tired to talk. The night was very still, and we could hear no sound except the chuckling of the stream, and we must have sunk into a deep sleep almost instantly so complete was the contrast of my first waking sensation. There was a roar, a banging, a flapping sound, like that of loose sail, and the sound of dripping water. I felt water on my face, and a chilly draught. Then I heard Dain say, sleepily, “What’s the matter?”

I got up and lit the lamp, and by that time Dain was as wide awake as I was myself, and had leapt up from the floor out of the way of the water that was pouring, as though from a tap, from the roof onto our bed. The roar was the wind, blowing with the force of at least a gale; the banging I judged to be one of the hut doors; the flapping sound evidently was made by loose felt on the roof; and the dripping needed no explanation, for in addition to the stream that wet us, water was pouring in from at least a dozen places in the roof, and the floor, except for one section immediately under the apex of the roof, was practically awash. Automatically, we bundled the mattresses and the bedding on to the relative island, and we stood for a while, listening to the roar and racket which seemed to grow louder every minute. It was alarming. The whole fabric of the hut seemed to be loose and shaking. Save that the floor was level, we might have been aboard a storm-tossed boat.

From Love in the Sun by Leo Walmsley (1939)

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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!

‘Waiting at my Window’ by A A Milne

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Kurt Jackson - Wellington Inn. Wet Evening Up St Just. November 2011.

Kurt Jackson – Wellington Inn. Wet Evening Up St Just. November 2011.

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IN the second week of September, Maggie was again sitting in her lonely room, battling with the old shadowy enemies that were forever slain and rising again. It was past midnight, and the rain was beating heavily against the window, driven with fitful force by the rushing, loud-moaning wind. For the day after Lucy’s visit there had been a sudden change in the weather; the heat and drought had given way to cold variable winds, and heavy falls of rain at intervals; and she had been forbidden to risk the contemplated journey until the weather should become more settled. In the counties higher up the Floss the rains had been continuous, and the completion of the harvest had been arrested. And now, for the last two days, the rains on this lower course of the river had been incessant, so that the old men had shaken their heads and talked of sixty years ago, when the same sort of weather, happening about the equinox, brought on the great floods, which swept the bridge away, and reduced the town to great misery. But the younger generation, who had seen several small floods, thought lightly of these sombre recollections and forebodings; and Bob Jakin, naturally prone to take a hopeful view of his own luck, laughed at his mother when she regretted their having taken a house by the riverside, observing that but for that they would have had no boats, which were the most lucky of possessions in case of a flood that obliged them to go to a distance for food. 1
But the careless and the fearful were alike sleeping in their beds now. There was hope that the rain would abate by the morrow; threatenings of a worse kind, from sudden thaws after falls of snow, had often passed off, in the experience of the younger ones; and at the very worst, the banks would be sure to break lower down the river when the tide came in with violence, and so the waters would be carried off, without causing more than temporary inconvenience, and losses that would be felt only by the poorer sort, whom charity would relieve.

From ‘The Mill on the Floss’ by George Eliot (1860)

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(c) Art in Healthcare; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Punjabi Ladies by Emily Learmont (1992)

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SCENE II. Another part of the heath. Storm still.

Enter KING LEAR and Fool

KING LEAR:
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s moulds, an germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!

Fool:
O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry
house is better than this rain-water out o’ door.
Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters’ blessing:
here’s a night pities neither wise man nor fool.

KING LEAR:
Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you kingdom, call’d you children,
You owe me no subscription: then let fall
Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters join’d
Your high engender’d battles ‘gainst a head
So old and white as this. O! O! ’tis foul!

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The Rain it Raineth by Norman Garstin 1889

The Rain it Raineth by Norman Garstin (1889)

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The sun came out again. This time, since they were closer to the ships, they could see how the sunlight shone through them and made them colourless until they were just a faint sparkle of the water.

“Glass,” said the Admiral, and he was near to the truth, but it was clever Perroquet who finally hit upon the truth.

“No, my Admiral, it is the rain. They are made or rain.”

As the rain fell from the heavens the drops were made to flow together to form solid masses – pillars and beams and sheets, which someone had shape into the likeness of a hundred ships.

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Perroquet and the Admiral and Captain Jumeau were consumed with curiosity to know who could have made such a thing and they agreed he must be a master rainsmith.”

From ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ by Susanna Clarke (2009)
Illustrated by Portia Rosenberg

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12 thoughts on “A Seasonal Collection: Rain

  1. That’s a lovely collection, Jane. There’s nothing I like better than being snuggled up warm inside with a book and listening to the rain outside!

    Like

  2. Fantastic post. I love this:
    Who Loves the Rain

    By Frances Shaw

    WHO loves the rain
    And loves his home,
    And looks on life with quiet eyes,
    Him will I follow through the storm;
    And at his hearth-fire keep me warm;
    Nor hell nor heaven shall that soul surprise,
    Who loves the rain,
    And loves his home,
    And looks on life with quiet eyes

    Like

  3. Such lovely paintings! I think the Garstin is my favorite as well. It’s a grey day here with rain predicted, and I’ll be thinking of these pictures and words.

    Like

  4. I live in Portland, OR, a traditionally rainy place that has had some blazingly hot summers and mild, sunny winters over the past couple of years. I’ve been craving the wet, wild winters of old and finally got it this year. Sunlight bores me; I love the moody landscape and the gradations of gray and green that predominate.

    Like

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