How does Sara Teasdale's poem of the same title relate to the story "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury?

Sara Teasdale's poem of the same title relates to Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" because both describe the world continuing without people after mankind has destroyed itself.

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The very fact that Bradbury's story takes its title from Teasdale's poem serves as a powerful confirmation that the story is very much in conversation with it. Indeed, not only does Bradbury reference Teasdale's work with the story's title, he also quotes it within the text, having the house recite the poem directly.

Both poem and story contain similar thematic material, as they both involve the possible destruction of humanity. Teasdale's poem concerns the existential insignificance of the human species: if we were to go extinct, the world would go on, largely unaffected by that extinction. In this respect, however, one might suggest that Bradbury's story is quite different in its tone and imagery. After all, Teasdale's poem presents a world filled with beauty and flourishing with life, whereas Bradbury's picture is much more violent and desolate, shaped by the imagery of a city reduced to nuclear devastation. Indeed, note, too, that nature itself is presented more violently in Bradbury's story, given the imagery of the fire as it consumes the house while the house fights a last desperate struggle to survive. In this respect, one might say that in both works, nature ultimately conquers humanity and is expressed as the more enduring and powerful force, but Bradbury's story is marked by a violence and brutality, not just reflected in the destruction of humanity by nuclear war but also within his depiction of nature itself.

In this respect, the two works mirror one another, sharing similar themes and mindsets, yet the two are not in complete agreement, either in their aesthetics or their thematic content. While Teasdale's poem contains a darkness beneath its idyllic imagery (it ultimately concerns the subject of human extinction after all), Bradbury takes that darkness and brings it to the forefront, as seen in the destruction of the city and the destruction of the house that survived it.

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In 1918, while the First World War was still raging, and soon after the influenza pandemic had started, Sara Teasdale published the following poem in Harper's Monthly Magazine:

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.

In 1950, Ray Bradbury used the title and first five words of Teasdale's poem as the title of his short story "There Will Come Soft Rains." The entire poem is also recited for the absent Mrs. McClellan by the mechanical house in the middle of the story.

Teasdale's poem and Bradbury's story share a common theme: the extinction of mankind and what comes afterwards. The main difference between the two is the result of more than three decades of technology. Teasdale has an indifferent nature thriving in the wake of humanity's self-destruction. Bradbury builds on this idea to imagine all the machines mankind has created continuing without their creator.

Although Bradbury's short story is primarily about man-made technology rather than nature, it does feature nature as the antagonist that destroys what humanity has made after humanity has destroyed itself. Almost as soon as the poem has been recited, the bough of a tree symbolically crashes into the man-made space, shattering a bottle of solvent over the stove and starting a fire. In Teasdale's poem, it was quicker and easier for nature to take over the planet from humanity, but Bradbury also suggests that the eradication of everything mankind has created will happen soon enough.

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Sara Teasdale's 1918 poem and Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story share both a title and a theme.  The subtitle of Teasdale's poem is  "War Time." In it, the speaker observes that if mankind were to destroy itself in war, nature would "scarcely know that we were gone."

Bradbury's story comes to a similar conclusion.  The mechanized house, though not a construct of nature, does not note the absence of the family that had occupied it. They were vaporized after a nuclear conflagration. At the story's end, it is arguable that the last vestige of man, the elaborately programmed house, has been erased by one of nature's most elemental forces, fire.  

Both Teasdale's poem and Bradbury's story suggests that mankind possesses self-destructive tendencies that we mistake for necessary technological and defensive measures.  Bradbury wrote the story a few years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by nuclear weapons. Though his story does not make it clear whether a war or an accident has destroyed the city visible from the house, what is clear is the idea that we are likely to bring destruction upon ourselves. Teasdale takes this thinking a step further, suggesting that nature will outlast us. 

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The poem "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Sara Teasdale shares its title with the short story by Ray Bradbury because it is recited by the house to entertain one of the inhabitants. Unfortunately, the inhabitants are all dead, killed in a nuclear explosion with the rest of the city. The house cannot know this, because all of its functions are automatic, and so it simply continues on its programmed schedule.

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

[...]

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;
(Bradbury, "There Will Come Soft Rains," from Teasdale, "There Will Come Soft Rains," nexuslearning.net)

The bolded phrase shows how Bradbury took one meaning of the poem and used it in his story; at least one city has been destroyed by nuclear war, but the house, less intelligent than even an animal or bird, doesn't know or care that its inhabitants are dead. It continues to perform its automated tasks without any larger purpose, and eventually is destroyed by a smaller fire, echoing the enormous fire that killed the people. The themes of both story and poem are similar, but the poem is a little more optimistic than the story, as it shows how nature will continue after humanity dies out; the story shows how even humanity's great innovations will be destroyed with time, leaving no trace of their existence.

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