17 October 2007

At long last...

...rain. It was pouring when I returned from Maryville about half past noon. It has rained off and on during the day. What a grace of God: "Thou visitest the earth and waterest it, thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water." (Aufdemberge's setting, learned 25 years ago and more at Bronxville, ringing in my ears).

But even when it is welcome and the earth has been aching for it, thirsting for it, it brings the spirit down. And that despite the fact that I love to hear it pounding on the roof and spilling out of the gutters and hitting the windows. When Goldberry's washing day comes, it seems a perfect day for melancholy thoughts and sitting about, telling old stories and thinking of the past.

For me, the memory that always stirs is sometime in my childhood. Our little house at 2719 Munson Street in Wheaton, MD. My oldest brother (then high school drop out, now college professor!) had left for a stint in the Coast Guard, the other children were all at school, but I was too young to go to school. I remember it was mid morning and the back door open, off my parent's bedroom. I laid on the bed. The doves had been singing their mournful song, and then the rain came. In sheets. It fell and fell and you could hear its music. There was just that and the sound of the iron (an odd click every now again) as mom as banished the wrinkles from all our clothes at the ironing board next to the bed. I don't remember the time of the year, but I remember the sadness. It still comes when the rain falls like that. Silence and rainfall. And a sense of loss.


Anonymous said...

Memories of rain and Mom ironing . . . you actually brought all that back to me, the very same sounds and feelings. I wonder how many others will read your words and experience the same thing?
I know I shared the following with you recently, but I just can't help but think how strongly they apply to your portrait of things past. Here they are again.
(These lines, hopefully, will survive format conversion.)
From T. S. Eliot:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

William Weedon said...

Yup! Eliot captures it there, as he does in so many places.

You know a poem I think that does a similar job? In LOTR, "I sit beside the fire and think."

William Weedon said...

Another is the Yates piece about the swans:

The Wild Swans at Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry.
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count ;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air ;
Their hearts have not grown old ;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful ;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away ?

WM Cwirla said...

I love the rain. The gentle rains of spring; the flashing thunderstorms of summer; the cool drizzle of fall. I love the smell of rain - mud, leaves, dampness - like an old Cabernet.

We get so little of it here in southern California, less than four inches last year. While we were visiting Wisconsin and Illinois this past week, it rained most of the time. People kept apologizing for the "bad weather." We stood in the rain and marveled, loving every wet minute of it.

Anonymous said...

William and, uh, William,
There is nothing better than sitting out on the porch and watching and listening to the rain.
Oh, thanks for Tolkien's "I sit beside the fire and think."
Lest we all grow too melancholy, I quote those hopeful final lines:
"But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door."