Analyse the poem 'Rain' by Edward Thomas.Please include themes, symbols, style, poetic technique (biography not necessary unless it is relevant to the poem)

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain 
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me 
Remembering again that I shall die 
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks 
For washing me cleaner than I have been 
Since I was born into this solitude. 
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon: 
But here I pray that none whom once I loved 
Is dying tonight or lying still awake 
Solitary, listening to the rain, 
Either in pain or thus in sympathy 
Helpless among the living and the dead, 
Like a cold water among broken reeds, 
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff, 
Like me who have no love which this wild rain 
Has not dissolved except the love of death, 
If love it be for what is perfect and 
Cannot, the tempest tells me,  
disappoint.

"Rain" belongs to the World War I school of poetry which depicts the horrors and alienation of modern trench warfare (think Wilfred Owen and All Quiet on the Western Front).

Usually, rain is a motif that renews, baptizes, purges.  But the rain imagery here is a dirge which welcomes death, a morbid rain dance.  The speaker seems like he is separated between trenches, in a literal and metaphorical "No Man's Land."  He likens himself to a "broken reed" in "cold water."  His wish is for death, for the rain to wash "me cleaner than I have been / Since I was born into this solitude," an existential spoof of a Christian prayer.

The speaker uses Psalm-like allusion to both to bless the dead and to curse his condition.  He speaks with intense introspection and uses hyperbole ("myriads of broken reeds"), which juxtaposes his lonliness with the thousands of other soldiers in the trenches.  All in all, "Rain" evokes a Hemingway-esque "lost generation" mood.

 

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