Walt Whitman’s poem primarily talks about the natural phenomenon of Water Cycle behind the formation of rain. The last two lines of the poem are pivotal where the poetic significance lies. Just as water vapours ascend to the sky unseen and take new form there and come back to the earth beautifying and purifying it, a poem(song) takes shape with an unseen inspiration from the life around, takes a new shape in the mind of the poet and comes back as a poem to the world in order to beautify and purify life. The rain doesn’t say “I am the product of the earth”, it says, “I am the Poem of the earth”. Most of the creative activities in nature are cyclic in nature. For example, seasons, day and night, birth and death etc. The poet is happy to share the realization that the process in his creation of a poem is the same cyclic process going on in nature. The earth is creating endless poetry every moment. He tries to demystify the status of a poet as a creator keeping Nature above him. Earth or Nature, according to him, is a greater poet and he (poet) is blessed with a language to listen to this poetry and translate it. Similarly, Neruda says in the concluding lines of his poem,‘Keeping Quiet’,admitting that what he advocates is nothing new, “perhaps Nature can teach us…”.

The poet’s question to Rain “Who are you”? starts the conversation between the two. Only a sensitive and creative person can converse with nature and animals and the language of that communication is not known to ordinary,conditioned minds. The poet uses the word ‘translated’ to emphasize this. If one is sensitive enough, one can listen to the ‘voice’ of rain, thunder,breeze and a vast variety of poetic melody in nature and then it is not ‘noise’ but ‘voice’.

Our children and most of us should learn this poem for reminding ourselves about communications and conversations that can be done with Nature and animals beyond the usual with human beings and gadgets. These communications can only be for enriching oneself and beautifying oneself and for no economic or material benefits. This world certainly needs more poets, lovers, non-judgemental listeners, artists, musicians and philosophers.  Those who do not lose the essential goodness and sensitivity within would surely discover more music and poetry around. ‘The poetry of earth is never dead’ by Keats is worth mention here.

-by  Santhosh Kana