Monday, October 13, 2008

The Latter Rain

I'm still playing with leaf prints, and I'm learning a little every day.  For example, disposable plastic gloves, the sort health care workers use, make the process much less messy.  These leaves came from our deck, where the silver maple has been shedding them for a week. When we built the deck around the tree twenty years ago, it seemed like a great idea.  But years of sweeping up little red spring tree-flowers, green helicopter seeds and yellow autumn leaves have changed my mind about it.

The Latter Rain, by Jones Very, is a new poem to me.  I'm seeing these vaguely melancholy autumnal poems everywhere lately.  The imagery, to me, is very lovely.  We had so much "early rain" this season, so much flooding, that it's good to remember that rain can also be a good thing in the cycles of nature.

The latter rain, it falls in anxious haste
Upon the sun-dried fields and branches bare, 
Loosening with searching drops the rigid waste
As if it would each root's lost strength repair;
But not a blade grows green as in the spring,
No swelling twig puts forth its thickening leaves;
The robins only mid the harvests sing
Pecking the grain that scatters from the sheaves;
The rain falls still -- the fruit of all ripened drops,
It pierces chestnut burr and walnut shell,
The furrowed fields disclose the yellow crops,
Each bursting pod of talents used can tell,
And all that once received the early rain
Declare to man it was not sent in vain.

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