‘Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon’: Edward Thomas’ poem, ‘Rain’

It’s raining this morning. The clouds have completely covered the mountain – in fact, I can barely see the neighbouring houses. I have to take on trust that the trees that border the field opposite are red and gold and in their last throws – I can’t see them from here.

As I write, the rain is tip-tapping onto the skylight above my desk. If you’re going to love the seasons, the idea of a changing landscape, as I do – then you’re going to have to love the rain too. It helps if there is a good poem to accompany it. When I hear the rain I sometimes, often, think of Edward Thomas’ poem, ‘Rain’:

Rain

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into this solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying to-night or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.

Edward Thomas

It might seem a sombre, even morbid, poem to you and I suppose it is – Thomas would die in the First World War only months after signing up. But it captures for me that moment of contemplation that rain might bring, when you can hear it on the roof, when you imagine it covering everyone.

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