The poem is written by Longfellow on a rain in summer, where he is overjoyed by the shower in a hot day. He opens the poem by exclaiming, “How beautiful is the rain!” which shows his happiness and excitement about rain. He talks about how it the drizzle and shower relieves him from the heat and dust of the summer.
How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!
How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!
In these lines, he is just mesmerised by the rain washing off all the heat and dust from the narrow and broad lanes of the city, and he reiterates the statement, “How beautiful is the rain!” In the next lines, he speaks about how the drops of rain falling on the roofs are having a rhythmic appeal to it. He compares it with the hoofs of the horses, to give us an image of the rhythm and sound of the raindrops on the roof. In the last two lines, he writes how the rain falls from the sky as if it is freeing from the overflowing clouds in the sky.
Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!
In these lines, the poet is describes how it looks like when the rain falls on the window pane, and how swift and wider the gutters look, as they are full of rain water, and filled with mud it looks like a river roaring down. He feels overjoyed about the rain, and welcomes it with open arms.
The sick man from his chamber looks
At the twisted brooks;
He can feel the cool
Breath of each little pool;
His fevered brain
Grows calm again,
And he breathes a blessing on the rain.
In these lines, Longfellow is talking about how people of all the age groups enjoy rain in their own ways, and how they are happy to see the rain. The man who is ill looks at the brooks and branches from his room and feels the cool of the rain, he can sense it from the sight, and grows calm and feels better.
From the neighboring school
Come the boys,
With more than their wonted noise
And down the wet streets
Sail their mimic fleets,
Till the treacherous pool
Ingulfs them in its whirling
And turbulent ocean.
In these lines, the poet speaks of the small boys from the school, who are overjoyed to see the rain and the run from their classes to the wet streets making noises and screaming in excitement. They play in the rain and in the pool of water which is mixed with water mud and dirt. But they don’t care, and fall into it.
In the country, on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard’s tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain
How welcome is the rain!
In these lines, Longfellow speaks about how the heat of the summer had dried every kind of vegetation around has dried and turned yellow. He says that the entire field resembles like a suitable place for the hideout of the leopard, as it’s yellow and spotted like its fur, and stretches all over the plains. And that parched bit of land is overjoyed, too, on the arrival of rain.
In the furrowed land
The toilsome and patient oxen stand;
Lifting the yoke encumbered head,
With their dilated nostrils spread,
They silently inhale
The clover-scented gale,
And the vapors that arise
From the well-watered and smoking soil.
Longfellow now is talking about the heat rising from the earth, and how the earth smells as the drops of rain falls on it, and cools down the hot soil. It cools and calms the entire environment around.
For this rest in the furrow after toil
Their large and lustrous eyes
Seem to thank the Lord,
More than man’s spoken word.
The poet says that once it had started pouring, everyone seems to look towards the sky, and silently thank God for showering his blessings on them.
Near at hand,
From under the sheltering trees,
The farmer sees
His pastures, and his fields of grain,
As they bend their tops
To the numberless beating drops
Of the incessant rain.
In this lines, the poet describes the joy of the peasants as they see the rain falling from the sky and replenishing their crops and fields. They are satisfied to smell the aroma of rain, as the pours from the sky.
He counts it as no sin
That he sees therein
Only his own thrift and gain.
These, and far more than these,
The Poet sees!
The poet says that the peasant doesn’t see an kind of harm or sin in being satisfied that the rain has come only for his benefit, but it’s the poet’s eyes that could see everything, and much more and far than this.
He can behold
Walking the fenceless fields of air;
And from each ample fold
Of the clouds about him rolled
The showery rain,
As the farmer scatters his grain.
The poet says that he is capable of going through may imaginations and thoughts about the rains scattering from the clouds, like the peasants collect their grains from the field during the harvest period.
He can behold
That have not yet been wholly told,–
Have not been wholly sung nor said.
The poet says that he could behold and enjoy the beauty of the rain, and unfold a lot of expressions and emotions about the rain, which have not been told yet, and some of them have not been written or registered yet by anyone.
For his thought, that never stops,
Follows the water-drops
Down to the graves of the dead,
Down through chasms and gulfs profound,
To the dreary fountain-head
Of lakes and rivers under ground;
And sees them, when the rain is done,
On the bridge of colors seven
Climbing up once more to heaven,
Opposite the setting sun.
Here the poet is trying to describe the power of his imagination. The poet says that though people around him just enjoy the rain and thanks the heavens, the poet doesn’t stop there, and his imagination keeps flowing. His imagination reaches the every corner which people normally don’t go towards.
Thus the Seer,
With vision clear,
Sees forms appear and disappear,
In the perpetual round of strange,
From birth to death, from death to birth,
From earth to heaven, from heaven to earth;
Till glimpses more sublime
Of things, unseen before,
Unto his wondering eyes reveal
The Universe, as an immeasurable wheel
In the rapid and rushing river of Time.
The poet ties to talk about the endless cycles of birth and death, and rain are symbolic to that cycle. The water keeps evaporating and going to the heavens, and keep showering down to the earth and the cycle continues. Similarly, there are many more which keep cycling and repeating in this universe which we are unaware of, and which is rushing through the time.
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