A Rain-Dream

Author: William Cullen Bryant  | Date: 1853


These strifes, these tumults of the noisy world,

Where Fraud, the coward, tracks his prey by stealth,

And Strength, the ruffian, glories in his guilt,

Oppress the heart with sadness. Oh, my friend,

In what serener mood we look upon

The gloomiest aspects of the elements

Among the woods and fields! Let us awhile,

As the slow wind is rolling up the storm,

In fancy leave this maze of dusty streets,

Forever shaken by the importunate jar

Of commerce, and upon the darkening air

Look from the shelter of our rural home.

Who is not awed that listens to the Rain,

Sending his voice before him? Mighty Rain!

The upland steeps are shrouded by thy mists;

Thy shadow fills the hollow vale; the pools

No longer glimmer, and the silver streams

Darken to veins of lead at thy approach.

O mighty Rain; already thou art here;

And every roof is beaten by thy streams,

And, as thou passest, every glassy spring

Grows rough, and every leaf in all the woods

Is struck, and quivers. All the hill-tops slake

Their thirst from thee; a thousand languishing fields,

A thousand fainting gardens, are refreshed;

A thousand idle rivulets start to speed,

And with the graver murmur of the storm

Blend their light voices as they hurry on.

Thou fill’st the circle of the atmosphere

Alone; there is no living thing abroad,

No bird to wing the air nor beast to walk

The field; the squirrel in the forest seeks

His hollow tree; the marmot of the field

Has scampered to his den; the butterfly

Hides under her broad leaf; the insect crowds,

That made the sunshine populous, lie close

In their mysterious shelters, whence the sun

Will summon them again. The mighty Rain

Holds the vast empire of the sky alone.

I shut my eyes, and see, as in a dream,

The friendly clouds drop down spring violets

And summer columbines, and all the flowers

That tuft the woodland floor, or overarch

The streamlet:- spiky grass for genial June,

Brown harvests for the waiting husbandman,

And for the woods a deluge of fresh leaves.

I see these myriad drops that slake the dust,

Gathered in glorious streams, or rolling blue

In billows on the lake or on the deep,

And bearing navies. I behold them change

To threads of crystal as they sink in earth

And leave its stains behind, to rise again

In pleasant nooks of verdure, where the child,

Thirsty with play, in both his little hands

Shall take the cool, clear water, raising it

To wet his pretty lips. To-morrow noon

How proudly will the water-lily ride

The brimming pool, o’erlooking, like a queen

Her circle of broad leaves! In lonely wastes,

When next the sunshine makes them beautiful,

Gay troops of butterflies shall light to drink

At the replenished hollows of the rock.

Now slowly falls the dull blank night, and still,

All through the starless hours, the mighty Rain

Smites with perpetual sound the forest-leaves,

And beats the matted grass, and still the earth

Drinks the unstinted bounty of the clouds-

Drinks for her cottage wells, her woodland brooks-

Drinks for the springing trout, the toiling bee,

And brooding bird- drinks for her tender flowers,

Tall oaks, and all the herbage of her hills.

A melancholy sound is in the air,

A deep sigh in the distance, a shrill wail

Around my dwelling. ’Tis the Wind of night;

A lonely wanderer between earth and cloud,

In the black shadow and the chilly mist,

Along the streaming mountain-side, and through

The dripping woods, and o’er the plashy fields,

Roaming and sorrowing still, like one who makes

The journey of life alone, and nowhere meets

A welcome or a friend, and still goes on

In darkness. Yet a while, a little while,

And he shall toss the glittering leaves in play,

And dally with the flowers, and gayly lift

The slender herbs, pressed low by weight of rain,

And drive, in joyous triumph, through the sky,

White clouds, the laggard remnants of the storm.

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Chicago: William Cullen Bryant, A Rain-Dream Original Sources, accessed April 22, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=943CKGJEV8J4J3Z.

MLA: Bryant, William Cullen. A Rain-Dream, Original Sources. 22 Apr. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=943CKGJEV8J4J3Z.

Harvard: Bryant, WC, A Rain-Dream. Original Sources, retrieved 22 April 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=943CKGJEV8J4J3Z.