It rains

It rains, and nothing stirs within the fence

Anywhere through the orchard’s untrodden dense

Forest of parsley. The great diamonds

Of rain on the grassblades there is none to break

Or the fallen petals further down to shake.

And I am nearly as happy as possible

To search the wilderness in vain though well

To think of two walking, kissing there,

Drenched, yet forgetting the kisses of the rain

Sad, too, to think that never, never again

Unless alone, so happy shall I walk

In the rain. When I turn away, on it’s fine stalk

Twilight has fined to naught the parsley flower

Figures, suspended still and ghostly white,

The past hovering as it revisits the light.

It Rains, by Edward Thomas.

I like the imagery – forest of parsley, diamond (panes) of rain – but what I like most is how he uses enjambement. It creates deliberate, “poetic” ambiguity: Does the fine stalk belong to the parsley or the twilight’s light? It imparts rhythm, either running on to convey the unbroken density of the forest, or allowing Thomas to break a line as he turns away, starting a sentence unexpectedly with a new pace, not at the start but in the middle.

Looking closely, you spot that Thomas cultivated a casual, “natural” speaking voice that was carefully structured, precursor to the stream of consciousness writers, and akin to the transparent deception in Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier, a book published two years before Thomas died. In fact, the mix of detached observation and see-sawing between happiness and sorrow in It Rains fits that novel too.

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