What is the significance of the story's title and what does it really mean?

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thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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There Will Come Soft Rains

The title of Ray Bradbury’s post-nuclear holocaust story is taken from a poem by the early 20th century poet Sara Teasdale, which is titled “There Will Come Soft Rains”.  In the poem, which I have pasted below, Teasdale portrays how the harmony of nature and the cycle of the seasons continues indifferent to humanity, saying that the world would barely notice if humans destroyed themselves entirely with wars. Bradbury’s story posits that humanity has been destroyed in a nuclear war, and both the mechanical house and nature outside continue indifferent to the absence of the humans. Where Teasdale’s tone is melancholic, but allows a redemptive vision of nature, Bradbury’s is much starker and more grim.

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.

kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

Ray Bradbury has taken the title of this story from a poem called "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Sara Teasdale. In her poem, Teasdale creates a peaceful and idyllic world in birds and frogs live happily. The point of this is to draw our attention to the fact that nature will survive long after humans have wiped themselves out by fighting constant wars. This is best summarised in the following lines:

"Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,

If mankind perished utterly."

In his story, Bradbury has brought the world of this poem to life: mankind has been wiped out after a nuclear blast but instead of depicting the survival of nature, it is Bradbury's mechanical house which remains. Rather ironically, the house is just as oblivious to the nuclear war that has happened as Sara Teasdale's birds and frogs.

So, by giving his story this title, Bradbury alludes to the importance of Sara Teasdale's message while also making his own key points about the potential dangers of technology.

Please see the reference links provided for more information.

amajen's profile pic

amajen | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Story by Ray Bradbury

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