The title caught my eye…it would be nice to be expecting a summer rain right about now. The lawn crunches when I walk across it, carrying water to the roses.
But when I read the accompanying poem, it called up memories of when we lived in the mountains when the children were young, when a thunderstorm would relieve the heat nearly every summer afternoon and give the children and me a change of pace, a reason to drop everything and run to the windows and watch the drama outside.
Before Summer Rain
Suddenly, from all the green around you,
something-you don’t know what-has disappeared;
you feel it creeping closer to the window,
in total silence. From the nearby wood
you hear the urgent whistling of a plover,
reminding you of someone’s Saint Jerome:
so much solitude and passion come
from that one voice, whose fierce request the downpour
will grant. The walls, with their ancient portraits, glide
away from us, cautiously, as though
they weren’t supposed to hear what we are saying.
And reflected on the faded tapestries now;
the chill, uncertain sunlight of those long
childhood hours when you were so afraid.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Don’t you wonder about that emotional turn the poem took at the end?
And actually, when you read it again, you realize that was not really a turn–the poem’s imagery had been unsettled, uneasy, all along. It’s not a happy anticipation of rain, is it? Nothing here about the cooling rain cleansing the parched earth. The feeling is uneasiness about change and vulnerability, even dipping back to the vulnerability a child feels.
What an unusual image of the walls “gliding away”. On first read I thought it was conveying that you cease to focus on the interior as you’re drawn into what’s happening outside. But then on reaching the unsettling conclusion, I go back and see something a little more uneasy, the shelter seems to be withdrawing.