What is the meaning behind “There Will Come Soft Rains”?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"There Will Come Soft Rains" is a poem by Sara Teasdale first published in 1920, in the immediate aftermath of the first world war. The poem expresses an apocalyptic vision of war and the possibility that the human race will annihilate itself in a tsunami of global conflict. In the wake of the development of the atom bomb, the poem was regarded as prescient, foreshadowing the possibility that humanity would develop the means to completely annihilate itself.

In Teasdale's vision, the destructiveness of humanity is contrasted with the beauty of the nature that would reclaim the world after the disappearance of humanity. The "soft rains" of the title would wash away the detritus of war and human activity and what would remain would be "swallows circling with their shimmering sound," frogs singing at night, wild plum trees with white flowers, and robins heralding a new spring. Teasdale portrays the indifference of nature to the loss of humanity in the final couplet:

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,

Would scarcely know that we were gone.

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There Will Come Soft Rains

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