The Voice of the Rain by Walt Whitman
A wonderful ppt to remove confusion regarding poem
The poet Walt Whitman writes of a conversation he once had with the rain as it dropped gently from the heavens. ‘Who are you?’ the poet asked. Stragely, the raindrops replied and the poet translates its answer for the readers.
‘I am the poem of the earth,’ said the rain. The rain adds that it is born in the form of invisible and intangible vapours that rise eternally from the earth’s land and deep water bodies. It then reaches heaven (the sky) and changes its appearance complete to form clouds of abstract, changeable shapes. Yet, at its core, it remains the same as it was at birth.
It then returns to earth as little droplets which wash away the dust and rejuvinate the drought-ridden, dry land. New plants find life which would have otherwise remained hidden and unborn inside the land as mere seeds. Thus, this perpetual cyclic lifestyle ensures that the rain retuns to its origin, the earth, giving it life, and making it pure and beautiful.
The poet realises that the rain’s life is similar to that of any song. A song’s birth place is the poet’s heart. Once complete, it is
passed on (wanders) from one person to another. It may change (reck’d) or remain the same (unreck’d) as it travels, but one day, it returns to the poet with all due love of the listeners.
‘Which strange to tell…’
Often, poets took on the role of the mediator between nature and humanity. The poet admits it was strange that he could understand the rain and now takes up the task of translating the answer for the readers.
‘I am the poem of the earth’
There is an immediate metaphoric comparison between the rain and poetry. However, this significance only comes to light in the poet’s reflection at the end of the poem.
‘Eternal I rise…’
The sense of permanance is extremely strong throughout the poem.The cyclic lifestyle is endless and shall continue as long as the connect between the rain and earth persists. The words ‘eternal’, ‘impalpable’, ‘bottomless’ show that though we record the overt reality, the true scope of nature remains tantalizingly beyond our rational comprehension.
‘Altogether changed, and yet the same’
The rain changes its appearance from intangible vapours to abstract clouds, yet, at its core, it remains the rain. This is the universal law that energy is never destroyed, only transferred from one form to another. Hence, ironically, in change, lies eternity.
‘I give back life to my own origin’
The rain falls to bring life to the unborn seeds hidden in the earth, it’s own birth-place.
‘(For song… duly with love returns)’
These lines have been placed in parenthesis because they are not a part of the conversation between the poet and the rain, rather its aftermath where the poet reflects on the conversation. He realises that the rain’s life is similar to that of any
song. A song’s birth place is the poet’s heart. Once complete, it is passed on (wanders) from one person to another. It may change (reck’d) or remain the same (unreck’d) as it travels, but one day, it returns to the poet with all due love of the listeners.
Comment on the style of the poem
Walt Whitman broke several conventions of poetry when writing this poem. There is no rhyme scheme nor do the lines stay of the same length. Although each phrase is just enough to be read in one breath, we find ourselves breathless as the line runs
on and eventually becomes a part of the whole. This kind of poetry was known as prosaic poetry, that is, poetry that is written like prose.