"A Coming Shower Your Shooting Corns Presage"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Swift's poem realistically describing the coming of a rain shower to eighteenth century London was written in 1710 and published that year in No. 238 of the famous periodical The Tatler. Swift describes, in his first verse paragraph, the portents of the coming storm; the second portion of the poem describes people's reactions to the falling rain and their activities during the storm; and the third part describes how the rain, having fallen, runs through the gutters of the London streets to empty into the River Thames. The poem ends with the highly realistic, if somewhat unpoetic, lines that tell what the waters carry away with them: ". . . from butchers' stalls, dung, guts, and blood,/ Drown'd puppies, stinging sprats, all drench'd in mud,/ Dead cats, and turnip-tops, come tumbling down the flood." Readers familiar with Swift's poetry will recognize the technique of this poem, as well as the subject matter, to be akin to his "Description of the Morning," which appeared earlier in The Tatler. The quotation above appears in the first verse paragraph, which tells how the approaching storm may be predicted:

Careful observers may foretell the hour
(By sure prognostics) when to dread a show'r.
While rain depends, the pensive cat gives o'er
Her frolics, and pursues her tail no more.
Returning home at night, you'll find the sink
Strikes your offended sense with double stink.
If you be wise, then go not far to dine;
You'll spend in coach-hire more than save in wine.
A coming show'r your shooting corns presage,
Old aches throb, your hollow tooth will rage:
Saunt'ring in coffee-house is Dulman seen;
He damns the climate, and complains of spleen.