Saturday, October 20, 2007


Rain Again

Eric Thomson writes:
Of my numerous phases of single-minded devotion to a single author, one of the longest and deepest has been with Edward Thomas, and Rain is one of the handful of his poems I know by heart. This too was the poem that came to mind when about 25 years ago now I visited the Arras cemetery where he is buried. So I opened the blog this morning with a smile of recognition.

I wonder if you know of Ivor Gurney, Gloucestershire poet and composer, and devotee of Schubert and Thomas in equal measure? WWI killed him too, though not as quickly or as cleanly as it did Thomas. I think you'd like his poetry if you don't know it.
I'm indebted to Eric for many things, and now I must thank him for introducing me to Ivor Gurney (1890-1937).

I discovered a cache of Gurney's poems here, from which I select a few that describe rain. I haven't been able to compare the texts against a printed copy, so I reproduce them as I found them.

There is no sound within the cottage now,
But my pen and the sound of long rain
Heavy and musical, I must think again
To find so sweet a noise, and cannot anyhow.

The soothingness and deep-toned tinkle, soft
Happenings of night, in pain there's nothing better.
Save tobacco, or long most looked for letter.
The different roof-sounds. House, shed, loft and scullery.
Rainy Midnight
Long shines the line of wet lamps dark in gleaming,
The trees so still felt yet as strength not used,
February chills April, the cattle are housed,
And nights grief from the higher things comes streaming.

The trade is all gone, the elver-fishers gone
To string their lights 'long Severn like a wet Fair.
If it were fine the elvers would swim clear,
Clothes sodden, the out-of-work stay on.
Soft Rain Beats Upon My Windows
Soft rain beats upon my windows
Hardly hammering
But by the great gusts guessed further off
Up by the bare moor and brambly headland
Heaven and earth make war

That savage toss of the pine boughs past music
And that roar of the elms...
Here come, in the candle light, soft reminder
Of poetry's truth, while rain beats as softly here
As sleep, or shelter of farms
The Soaking
The rain has come, and the earth must be very glad
Of its moisture, and the made roads, all dust clad;
It lets a veil down on the lucent dark,
And not of any bright ground thing shows its spark.

Tomorrow's gray morning will show cowparsley,
Hung all with shining drops, and the river will be
Duller because of the all soddenness of things,
Till the skylark breaks his reluctance, hangs shaking, and sings.

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