Waters above! eternal springs! The dew that silvers the Dove's wings! O welcome, welcome to the sad! Give dry dust drink; drink that makes glad! Many fair ev'nings, many flow'rs Sweeten'd with rich and gentle showers, Have I enjoy'd, and down have run Many a fine and shining sun; But never, till this happy hour, Was blest with such an evening-shower! From "Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist, Volume II. This was not an April shower, but a March one; a morning but not an evening shower yet I'm sure Henry Vaughan would have appreciated it, as I did, seeing the raindrops on the willows shining on the osiers. Laudato Si'!
Tag Archives: rain
Sheila Billingsley has had her eyes open! On the edge of Saddleworth Moor, spring has arrived! She gives this poem the title ’14th March 2022′. We hope Spring is enchanting your eyes, ears and sense of smell. Those cherry trees . . .
14th March 2022.
Today Spring arrived! Slipped in!. . . Quietly! Bright blue sky, Pushing out thoughts of rain, . . . until tomorrow! The cherry tree in the lane is in blossom. Delicate, tiny, hardly pink blossom. Not the blowsy in-your-face Japanese, Oh no! Today the gardener arrived too, To clear the detritus of winter. Cheerful and happy within his whiskers. Did many thank you? Did many even notice? That your world was still struggling to obey you, Despite what we do? At least your world obeys you, While we fight and kill and poison. Do they know that you exist ? And love, And forgive. Do they know that you suffer? I just wanted to record that Spring arrived today.
Edward Thomas would walk and walk through the night for the sake of solitude. Tonight, though, he is holed up in a cabin with nothing but the wild rain. Like Saint Francis, he welcomes death, but right now is far from loved ones – or are there only those he once loved?
If there is consciousness of heaven which we can accept or unthinkingly reject, there is an awareness of hell, or of nothingness, that the likes of Edward Thomas and other poets must face down. And that process starts, tentatively, with thinking of other people, thoughts that become prayers for those in need, those whom, deeper down than his despair, he loves still (as we see from other poems.)
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 to-night 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 towards what is perfect and Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint. "HOME" by Edward Thomas
How are you doing with those New Year’s Resolutions? Read on for some encouragement!
Samuel Johnson and James Boswell are in Skye, made very welcome by a local chief, but unable to move on because the weather was too bad for sailing or rowing, and of course Calmac steamships had not yet appeared. Here is Boswell describing one of their conversations. Doctor Doddridge was a non-conformist minister and hymn writer who died in 1751, 22 years before the friends’ tour of Scotland. More of Boswell’s idiosyncratic spellings.
Dr Dodridge being mentioned, [Johnson] observed that ‘he was author of one of the finest epigrams in the English language. It is in Orton’s Life of him. The subject is his family-motto, Dum vivimus, vivamus*; which, in its primary signification, is, to be sure, not very suitable to a Christian divine; but he paraphrased it thus:
Live, while you live, the EPICURE would say, And seize the pleasures of the present day. Live, while you live, the sacred PREACHER cries, And give to God each moment as it flies. Lord, in my views let both united be; I live in PLEASURE, when I live to THEE.
(from The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D. by James Boswell)
*While we are alive, let us live!
A jolly, hopeful poem from Christina Rossetti. Laudato Si’.
Every valley drinks, Every dell and hollow: Where the kind rain sinks and sinks, Green of Spring will follow. Yet a lapse of weeks Buds will burst their edges, Strip their wool-coats, glue-coats, streaks, In the woods and hedges; Weave a bower of love For birds to meet each other, Weave a canopy above Nest and egg and mother. But for fattening rain We should have no flowers, Never a bud or leaf again But for soaking showers; Never a mated bird In the rocking tree-tops, Never indeed a flock or herd To graze upon the lea-crops. Lambs so woolly white, Sheep the sun-bright leas on, They could have no grass to bite But for rain in season. We should find no moss In the shadiest places, Find no waving meadow-grass Pied with broad-eyed daisies; But miles of barren sand, With never a son or daughter, Not a lily on the land, Or lily on the water. (from "Poems" by Christina Georgina Rossetti)
Alice Meynell was much happier in London than either Mary Webb or Elizabeth Barrett, but she and her family spent plenty of time in the Sussex countryside, where the clouds can be seen and appreciated. London is different in this regard, possibly more so than in the late 19th Century. Today’s buildings cut the sky into ever smaller packets. Greenwich Park allowed us to take a step back and see the clouds of summer.
Needless to say, the cloud of a thunderous summer is the most beautiful of all. It has spaces of a grey for which there is no name, and no other cloud looks over at a vanishing sun from such heights of blue air. The shower-cloud, too, with its thin edges, comes across the sky with so influential a flight that no ship going out to sea can be better worth watching.
The dullest thing perhaps in the London streets is that people take their rain there without knowing anything of the cloud that drops it. It is merely rain, and means wetness. The shower-cloud there has limits of time, but no limits of form, and no history whatever. It has not come from the clear edge of the plain to the south, and will not shoulder anon the hill to the north. The rain, for this city, hardly comes or goes; it does but begin and stop. No one looks after it on the path of its retreat.
From The Colour of Life; and other essays on things seen and heard.
Do we take gifts for granted, without asking where they come from, without gratitude? Have we lost our sharpness of vision and imagination? What can we thank God, or someone for, today?
Mrs Turnstone likes to remind us that this is the day of the year that the Sun first appears in Greenland. It is also her birthday. While our son is happily settled in London, she feels she has lived there for as long as she ever wants to, but she’ll visit the town, take Abel to an exhibition, or meet up with friends.
After Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who left London to elope with Robert, here is Mary Webb who moved to London to foster her career as a writer. The move brought her little joy, for she was a deep-rooted Shropshire Lass. So here is a melancholic poem from her pen, but one that looks to the ‘stately sun’, symbol of undisdainful death as well as of new life. One of the symptoms of the hyperthyroid Graves’ disease that she endured was swelling of the face which made her feel ‘unlovely’, and aware of ‘slights and lies and unkindnesses’ that more robust souls would have shrugged off.
Despite the melancholy, the blackbird, who is now in good voice, transports Mary to the Shropshire Hills, landing there in Spring, aware in her whole being of Shropshire under the rain and sun. Her kinder life, will it be in heaven only, or also in the golden air of the Welsh borders? I like to think it was experienced on this earth as a gentle preparation for life eternal.
Sing on, dear bird! Bring the old rapturous pain,
In this great town, where I no welcome find.
Show me the murmuring forest in your mind,
And April's fragile cups, brimful of rain.
O sing me far away, that I may hear
The voice of grass, and, weeping, may be blind
To slights and lies and friends that prove unkind.
Sing till my soul dissolves into a tear,
Glimmering within a chaliced daffodil.
So, when the stately sun with burning breath
Absorbs my being, I'll dream that he is Death,
Great Death, the undisdainful. By his will
No more unlovely, haunting all things fair,
I'll seek some kinder life in the golden air.
Let’s turn to Christina Rossetti, another of our favourite poets, singing of winter rain. I like her ‘rocking tree-tops’.
A creation hymn indeed, and looking forward to Spring and renewal, new life. And if we do not care better for our Earth, we can look forward to something like ‘Miles of barren sand, With never a son or daughter, Not a lily on the land, Or lily on the water.’
Time to prepare the way of the Lord.
Every valley drinks, Every dell and hollow: Where the kind rain sinks and sinks, Green of Spring will follow. Yet a lapse of weeks Buds will burst their edges, Strip their wool-coats, glue-coats, streaks, In the woods and hedges; Weave a bower of love For birds to meet each other, Weave a canopy above Nest and egg and mother. But for fattening rain We should have no flowers, Never a bud or leaf again But for soaking showers; Never a mated bird In the rocking tree-tops, Never indeed a flock or herd To graze upon the lea-crops. Lambs so woolly white, Sheep the sun-bright leas on, They could have no grass to bite But for rain in season. We should find no moss In the shadiest places, Find no waving meadow-grass Pied with broad-eyed daisies; But miles of barren sand, With never a son or daughter, Not a lily on the land, Or lily on the water. Christina Rossetti
There's nothing like the sun as the year dies,
Kind as it can be, this world being made so,
To stones and men and beasts and birds and flies,
To all things that it touches except snow,
Whether on mountain side or street of town.
The south wall warms me: November has begun,
Yet never shone the sun as fair as now
While the sweet last-left damsons from the bough
With spangles of the morning's storm drop down
Because the starling shakes it, whistling what
Once swallows sang. But I have not forgot
That there is nothing, too, like March's sun,
Like April's, or July's, or June's, or May's,
Or January's, or February's, great days:
And August, September, October, and December
Have equal days, all different from November.
No day of any month but I have said—
Or, if I could live long enough, should say—
"There's nothing like the sun that shines to-day."
There's nothing like the sun till we are dead.
Edward Thomas challenged his melancholy by getting out of doors, with friends such as Robert Frost but often enough alone. November sun in England, especially against a south wall, or south cliff, is warming. Mid-November last year we went walking and foraged damsons, sweeter than they would have been a month earlier, but recorded that in prose, not poetry.
‘There’s nothing like the sun till we are dead’, and then? Why then we shall learn who the sun is like.
And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:5.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. Matthew 6:28-29
The other day, as you can see, it was raining when I got to the Glebe, and it stayed that way all the time I was there. That’s not the reason for the post, though, but the plant the pictures show.
You’ll notice that it has no hint of green about it; this is because it is a parasite and cannot make its own chlorophyll. It derives this vital fluid from tapping into the roots of its host plant, which is ivy. It’s name is Orobanche hederae, or ivy broomrape.
When I was identifying this at the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland there were very few records mapped in Kent, the nearest being at Eastry village 14 miles away. That of course does not mean there are none nearer than that, they may even be relatively common since ivy, the host plant, grows almost everywhere. I don’t think anyone has introduced it here on purpose, especially to the awkward corner it occupies, so the guess has to be that a highly favoured seed – they are like specks of dust – blew here from wherever the parent plant was growing. The third picture shows that there are more shoots to come, so it’s well established with us. Let’s hope we can keep it thriving.