The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Spring Rain” is a short poem of twenty-four lines that are broken into six stanzas of four lines each. Set in the spring following the February beginning of the 1917 bloodless Russian Revolution, the poem is written as if the speaker were not a participant but simply a witness to the urban scene recorded. While there is no reference to an “I,” the last line of stanza 6 contains the word “our,” which by implication broadens the voice. In the quotation from Nikolaus Lenau’s poem “Das Bild,” the epigraph to Sestra moia zhizn’: Leto 1917 goda, the volume in which “Spring Rain” first appeared, “my beloved girl” is named as someone whom the poet wishes to draw into the experience of the poems. The “our” could be interpreted to mean the poet and the beloved girl of the epigraph.

From the beginning line, rain takes on properties beyond that of mere water falling from the sky. The speaker anthropomorphizes the downpour such that it first grins at a wildflower, then sobs, and then soaks things as diverse as the hard shine of vehicles and breeze-blown flora. In the last two lines of the stanza, the speaker sets the scene: The action is outside at night, near a theater where a crowd of people is being managed by a policeman.

The effects of the rain and the moonlight, the positive transforming powers, are described in the next two stanzas. Drops, called both “tears” and “damp diamonds,” touch everything,...

(The entire section is 533 words.)

Forms and Devices

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Boris Pasternak’s poems contain many metaphors and metonymies. As a young man, Pasternak considered a career as a professional musician. He devoted more than six years to the study of composition but abandoned the pursuit when he became convinced that he lacked the required technical skill. The musical training greatly influenced his poems, however, and the artistry of sound design, as well as rhyme and meter, guided his word choice and resulted in intricate metaphoric and metonymic usage. “Spring Rain” falls among the group of poems in which the poet found parallels in nature to convey his theme and discovered an abundance of metaphors and metonymies to both strengthen the poem’s form and add crisp originality to its imagery.

In stanza 2, first a simile—the raindrops as tears filling a throat—and then a metaphor—“damp diamonds” burning—is followed by the metonymy of “eyelids” to imply the congregation in the street.

The pallor cast by the moon is metaphorized, along with the moonlight-silhouetted urban scene, as a plaster sculpture in which the congregation in the street again is represented by metonymies. This time, there is a series: “queues, tossing dresses,enraptured lips.” The “fingertips” and “aortas and lips” of the next stanza are also pieces representing wholes. The government minister has raised his hands in his moving oration and has unified the emotional and verbal response of the people.

The last two stanzas employ the device...

(The entire section is 618 words.)