(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Among his lyrics that use an image from the natural world as an occasion for an emotional revelation, “The Rain” is one of Creeley’s most poignant and successful efforts. It opens with the direct, lean language that is Creeley’s special signature:

All night the sound hadcome back again,and again fallsthis quiet, persistent rain.

It then proceeds to a psychological correlative, where the poet asks “What am I to myself” and considers whether “hardness” is permanent, whether he is to “be locked in this/ final uneasiness” that even “rain falling” cannot alleviate.

Then the poem moves beyond observation (of the self in the context of the phenomena of nature) to a fervent declaration of necessity:

Love, if you love me,lie next to me.Be for me, like rain,the getting outof the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-lust of intentional indifference.

The plague of human frailty, which he condemns in three multisyllabic constructions that stand in stark contrast to the poem’s other diction, is a part of the common affliction that dismembers relationships. As a remedy, Creeley then instructs his “love” to “Be wet/ with a decent happiness.” The joining of rain, its properties of liquidity and fluidity, with a desirable human attribute unifies everything, and the mixture of the modestly hopeful and the idealistic in the last line perfectly captures the reserved or cautious optimism that is one of Creeley’s most appealing features.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Allen, Donald, ed. Contexts of Poetry: Interviews with Robert Creeley, 1961-1971. Bolinas, Calif.: Four Seasons, 1973.

Clark, Tom. Robert Creeley and the Genius of the American Commonplace. New York: New Directions, 1993.

Edelberg, Cynthia. Robert Creeley’s Poetry: A Critical Introduction. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1978.

Faas, Ekbert, and Maria Trombaco. Robert Creeley: A Biography. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2001.

Ford, Arthur. Robert Creeley. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978.

Foster, Edward Halsey. Understanding the Black Mountain Poets. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.

Fox, Willard. Robert Creeley, Edward Dorn, and Robert Duncan: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989.

Oberg, Arthur. Modern American Lyric: Lowell, Berryman, Creeley, and Plath. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1977.

Rifkin, Libbie. Career Moves: Olson, Creeley, Zukofsky, Berrigan, and the American Avant-Garde. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.

Terrell, Carroll, ed. Robert Creeley: The Poet’s Workshop. Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 1984.

Wilson, John, ed. Robert Creeley’s Life and Work: A Sense of Increment. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1987.