Still Falls the Rain

by Edith Sitwell

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The Poem

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Last Updated October 10, 2023.

"Still Falls the Rain" is rich in symbolism and imagery. The recurring motif of rain represents the destructive forces of war. The rain's persistence, expressed through the repetition of the phrase "Still Falls the Rain," underscores the inescapable nature of suffering during wartime and the indiscriminate nature of the bloodshed.


Furthermore, comparing rain to Christ's crucifixion and references to biblical figures enrich the poem's symbolism. This comparison not only offers depth to its message but creates familiar comparisons for the audience to draw on, as Sitwell's readers would be familiar with both the Blitz and the story of Christ. By aligning the crucifixion with humanity's wartime suffering, Sitwell underscores the notion that Christ's sacrifice mirrors the collective pain of people and their chance for redemption.


In this way, Sitwell skillfully contrasts the rain's destructive imagery with glimpses of hope and mercy. Despite the violence and agony of Christ's death, it is depicted as possessing a capacity for hope and even beauty — a symbol of redemption. This contrast highlights humanity's potential for mercy and resilience, as exemplified by Christ's innocence against the backdrop of war's darkness and chaos.


While the poem primarily explores a particular event of World War II, it also delves into religious themes of forgiveness and salvation. The numerous biblical allusions emphasize this point. Christian symbolism and biblical references are woven extensively into the poem, with Christ and the crucifixion taking center stage in examining suffering, redemption, and mercy. The mention of Cain's murder of Abel touches on human jealousy. At the same time, the reference to the parable of Dives and Lazarus underscores the necessity of redemption for both victims and perpetrators alike.


The poem is composed of thirty-four lines, organized into seven stanzas. This division carries symbolic significance, likely representing the seven days of the week. Furthermore, the poem's title, "Still Falls the Rain," is repeated six times within its verses. The number six holds a traditional association with humanity. According to the Book of Genesis, humankind was created on the sixth day of the world's creation. Also, the title, repeated six times, highlights how Christ's suffering continues and is connected to the human experience. This strengthens the poem's message concerning how divine and human experiences are connected.


"Still Falls the Rain" is written in free verse, allowing Sitwell to convey the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the Blitz during World War II. The absence of a strict rhyme scheme and meter mirrors the randomness and disarray of the bombings, creating a sense of unease and tension in the poem. It allows the poet to capture the emotional turbulence and confusion of the time.


In contrast to the free verse, Sitwell also incorporates moments of rhyme, albeit irregularly and sporadically. These rhymed words or phrases serve as points of emphasis within the poem, drawing the reader's attention to specific ideas or images. For instance, rhyming "loss" and "Cross" in the first stanza highlights the intensity of human suffering and the plea for truth and redemption. These strategically placed rhymes punctuate the poem and contribute to its emotional impact.


Like several other works of Sitwell, "Still Falls the Rain" was influenced by the Symbolist movement in poetry. Symbolism was a late 19th-century literary and artistic movement that aimed to express abstract ideas and emotions through symbols and suggestive imagery rather than direct representation. 


While Sitwell's poem is not a pure example of Symbolism, it does share some common traits with the movement by combining Symbolist elements with religious and biblical themes, historical context, and Sitwell's perspective. The poem creates an emotional landscape that takes readers on a journey that leads them from despair to hope.

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