There Will Come Soft Rains

So after nine days of summer weather in March (in Chicagoland!) we now have rain, which is fine, because my lawn knows I’m not going to water it this year. We have an understanding, me and my lawn. We’re good. The other good thing about this weather is it reminded me of one of my favorite poems, “There Will Come Soft Rains” (1920) by Sara Teasdale:

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

KA-POW! There’s poetry–IN YO FACE! A terrific poem, introduced to me by Ray Bradbury’s short story of the same name (which he so named as an homage to the poem).

Not to sound maudlin, because I don’t feel maudlin when I say this, but Teasdale’s poem would be a great one to read at a funeral. So it got me thinking: what other poems would make good funeral reads? How about “Ozymandias” (1818) by Percy Bysshe Shelley? If you’ve read/seen Watchmen, you’ll recognize that name.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” is perhaps the coolest (albeit arrogant) epitaph ever. A little wordy, maybe, but it might make a nice title for a story–if it hasn’t been used already. And all this musing brought on by a little rainy weather. I was tempted to include some Emily Dickinson in this post, but … no I wasn’t.

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