The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Still Falls the Rain” is a meditation on suffering in the world. This poem begins with a reference to the bombing of England by the Germans during World War II, then spins a tapestry of references to suffering throughout the history of the world. The thirty-four lines of the poem are divided into seven stanzas, perhaps to symbolize the seven days of the week and thereby emphasize the comprehensiveness of the suffering Christ still endures. The title of the poem is repeated six times throughout the poem, the number six traditionally being associated with humankind, which was, according to Genesis 1, created on the sixth day of creation.

The poem begins with a somewhat ambiguous and somber allusion to the rain that could refer to a typical rain of water or to a rain of bombs during the air raids. Whichever rain is intended, the allusion is related to the sacrifice of the “Starved Man” or Christ upon the cross so that the rain is finally seen as a flow of blood from Christ’s side. The years since the birth of Christ (1,940 at the time the poem takes place) are represented by nails in the cross, thus indicating that Christ suffered for all the sins of the world committed after his death as well as before it.

The poem makes several allusions to biblical accounts related to Christ’s betrayal, Crucifixion, and ministry on earth. “The Potter’s Field” or “Field of Blood” is the plot of land purchased with the thirty pieces of...

(The entire section is 554 words.)

Forms and Devices

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Edith Sitwell uses a free-verse form for this poem, but she still includes a wide variety of rhymes, including scattered end rhymes. For example, the four lines in stanza 1 end with the words “Rain,” “loss,” “nails,” and “Cross,” the first and second forming a half-rhyme and the third and fourth forming a perfect rhyme. In stanza 4, in contrast, the five lines end with the words “Rain,” “Cross,” “us,” “Lazarus,” and “one,” the middle three words rhyming while the outside two are again a half-rhyme, this time in a form sometimes called consonance. Because the pattern of rhyming is varied throughout the poem, the music of the poem underscores the unpredictable nature of life in the twentieth century.

As noted in the previous section, this poem makes careful use of biblical allusions. No fewer than fifteen of the thirty-four lines contain direct allusions to biblical accounts or concepts, and many of the other lines contain statements consistent with the Christian perspective. These allusions, combined with carefully modulated rhymes and the repeated refrain “Still falls the Rain,” give this poem a liturgical quality as it moves from contrition to confession to benediction. In the preface to her book The Canticle of the Rose (1949), Sitwell notes that she thought of her poems as “hymns of praise to the glory of life.” “Still Falls the Rain” is part of this hymn tradition. The title and refrain also...

(The entire section is 425 words.)