The Voice of the Rain, by Walt WhitmanPosted: March 4, 2013
And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form’d, altogether changed, and
yet the same,
I descend to lave the drouths, atomies, dust-layers of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn;
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin,
and make pure and beautify it;
(For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wandering,
Reck’d or unreck’d, duly with love returns.)
I think this is a rather wonderful representation of Whitman’s, or indeed the ideal, humanism. To the chaos of conflict and the discord of psychology there is a kind of fellowship, the spirit of which does not need to be driven by divine forces; people can create and sustain one another like the earth upon which we live. I’d be tempted to say that the poem is powerful in a very literal sense too; the largest populations gather where the land can grow food, and so regions with decent rainfall, more than areas dry and arid. But as soon as the archetype of the African drinking toxic water out of thirst steps into view, that all falls apart.
Nevertheless, there’s a small amount of internationalism here: wrought from nature we’ve a duty to share in it equally. Relevant, I think, to my last post.