By Ethan Shea
Everyone knows the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” but how true is it? According to this weather blog, the saying actually comes from England. Although April is usually a fairly wet month, it isn’t always the rainiest. June and July often compete for the top spot in both the United States and United Kingdom.
All I know is that as I’m writing this blog and looking at the weather forecast, April looks like it’s off to a fairly damp start. To fit the somber mood that comes with this wet weather, I’ve compiled some of rain’s most famous appearances in literature. Everyone knows the best way to read is beside a rain-soaked window, so feel free to check out these recs and read them at your leisure!
Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
Perhaps the most famous invocation of rain is the opening of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The poem even directly calls upon April specifically as a month that brings rain. In direct contrast to Chaucer, over five centuries later, T.S. Eliot would begin his magnum opus, The Waste Land, with the phrase: “April is the cruelest month,” showing how incredibly deep Chaucer’s influence runs.
“The Rainy Day” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This somewhat depressing poem is worth reading when you’re down in the dumps on a rainy day. The most famous line from this poem is: “Into each life some rain must fall.” A quote worth remembering when bad weather and anything else going on in your life makes everything seem overwhelming. A little rain just makes the sun feel brighter afterwards!
“April Rain Song” – Langston Hughes
Hughes makes a refreshing change of pace here as he declares his love for the rain with this poem. His ability to find beauty in pools of rain on the sidewalk and enjoy the musicality of raindrops on his roof is inspiring. You just have to respect the ability to take something that may seem bad and turn it into something beautiful.
“Rain Poem” – Emily Dickinson
Although it is referred to as “Fascicle Thirty-Eight” in this collection, “Rain Poem” is another piece that seems not to mind the wet weather. While placing all these poets aside one another, it’s fascinating to see how nature inspires them in such dramatically different ways even when under the same damp conditions.
Hopefully you enjoy these pieces and are inspired to search for some more, as there is an innumerable number of literary works inspired by the rain. Moreover, April just so happens to be National Poetry Month! Not that you needed another reason to indulge in some classic verses.
Happy reading, and stay dry out there…or don’t!
Ethan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.