Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Rain
By Emile Verhaeren (1855–1916)
From ‘Six French Poets’: Translation of Amy Lowell

LONG like threads without end, the long rain
Interminably, across the gray day;
Streaks the green window-panes with its long gray threads,
Endlessly, the rain,
The long rain,        5
The rain.
Since yesterday evening it has raveled itself so,
Out of the rotten rags hanging
From the solemn and black sky.
It stretches itself, patiently—slowly—        10
Upon the roads,
Since yesterday evening—upon the roads and lanes,
Along the miles
Which go from the fields to the suburbs,        15
By ways interminably winding,
Pass the teams with arching hoods—
Toiling, sweating, smoking—
Like a funeral train seen in profile;
In the straight ruts,        20
Parallel for such a distance that at night they seem to join the heavens,
The water drips for hours;
And the trees weep, and the houses,
Soaked as they are by the long rain,
Tenaciously, indefinitely.        25
Through their rotten dikes
The rivers burst over the meadows
Where the drowned grain floats;
The wind slaps alders and walnut trees.
Ominously, half-submerged in water,        30
The great, black oxen bellow to the tortured heavens;
Evening comes with its shadows,
And the plains and the coppices are clogged with them,
And always there is the rain,
The long rain,        35
Fine and dense like soot.
The long rain,
The rain—and its identical threads
And its systematic nails
Weave the shroud of destitution        40
Mesh by mesh,
For the houses and the enclosures
Of the gray old villages;
Linens and rosaries of rags
Which ravel out        45
All down the upright beams;
Blue pigeon-houses glued to the roof;
Windows whose dilapidated panes
Have a plaster of brown paper;
Dwellings where the symmetrical gutters        50
Form into crosses above the stone gables;
Windmills planted, uniform and dull,
Each on its hill, like horns;
Belfries and neighboring chapels,
The rain,        55
The long rain,
Assassinates them during the Winter.
The rain,
The long rain, with its long gray threads,
With its hair of water, and its wrinkles,        60
The long rain
Of old countries,
Eternal and torpid.

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