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There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury

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How does Sara Teasdale's poem relate to Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

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Sara Teasdale's poem of the same title relates to Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" because both describe the world continuing without people after mankind has destroyed itself.

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The very fact that Bradbury's story takes its title from Teasdale's poem serves as a powerful confirmation that the story is very much in conversation with it. Indeed, not only does Bradbury reference Teasdale's work with the story's title, he also quotes it within the text, having the house recite the poem directly.

Both poem and story contain similar thematic material, as they both involve the possible destruction of humanity. Teasdale's poem concerns the existential insignificance of the human species: if we were to go extinct, the world would go on, largely unaffected by that extinction. In this respect, however, one might suggest that Bradbury's story is quite different in its tone and imagery. After all, Teasdale's poem presents a world filled with beauty and flourishing with life, whereas Bradbury's picture is much more violent and desolate, shaped by the imagery of a city reduced to nuclear devastation. Indeed, note, too, that nature itself is presented more violently in Bradbury's story, given the imagery of the fire as it consumes the house while the house fights a last desperate struggle to survive. In this respect, one might say that in both works, nature ultimately conquers humanity and is expressed as the more enduring and powerful force, but Bradbury's story is marked by a violence and brutality, not just reflected in the destruction of humanity by nuclear war but also within his depiction of nature itself.

In this respect, the two works mirror one another, sharing similar themes and mindsets, yet the two are not in complete agreement, either in their aesthetics or their thematic content. While Teasdale's poem contains a darkness beneath its idyllic imagery (it ultimately concerns the subject of human extinction after all), Bradbury takes that darkness and brings it to the forefront, as seen in the destruction of the city and the destruction of the house that survived it.

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In 1918, while the First World War was still raging, and soon after the influenza pandemic had started, Sara Teasdale published the following poem in Harper's Monthly Magazine:

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;


And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,


Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;


And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;


And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

In 1950, Ray Bradbury used the title and first five words of Teasdale's poem as the title of his short story "There Will Come Soft Rains." The entire poem is also recited for the absent Mrs. McClellan by the mechanical house in the middle of the story.

Teasdale's poem and Bradbury's story share a common theme: the extinction of mankind and what comes afterwards. The main difference between the two is the result of more than three decades of technology. Teasdale has an indifferent nature thriving in the wake of humanity's self-destruction. Bradbury builds on this idea to imagine all the machines mankind has created continuing without their creator.

Although Bradbury's short story is primarily about man-made technology rather than nature, it does feature nature as the antagonist that destroys what humanity has made after humanity has destroyed itself. Almost as soon as the poem has been recited, the bough of a tree symbolically crashes into the man-made space, shattering a bottle of solvent over the stove and starting a fire. In Teasdale's poem, it was quicker and easier for nature to take over the planet from humanity, but Bradbury also suggests that the eradication of everything mankind has created will happen soon enough.

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Sara Teasdale's 1918 poem and Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story share both a title and a theme.  The subtitle of Teasdale's poem is  "War Time." In it, the speaker observes that if mankind were to destroy itself in war, nature would "scarcely know that we were gone."

Bradbury's story comes to a similar conclusion.  The mechanized house, though not a construct of nature, does not note the absence of the family that had occupied it. They were vaporized after a nuclear conflagration. At the story's end, it is arguable that the last vestige of man, the elaborately programmed house, has been erased by one of nature's most elemental forces, fire.  

Both Teasdale's poem and Bradbury's story suggests that mankind possesses self-destructive tendencies that we mistake for necessary technological and defensive measures.  Bradbury wrote the story a few years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by nuclear weapons. Though his story does not make it clear whether a war or an accident has destroyed the city visible from the house, what is clear is the idea that we are likely to bring destruction upon ourselves. Teasdale takes this thinking a step further, suggesting that nature will outlast us. 

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The poem "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Sara Teasdale shares its title with the short story by Ray Bradbury because it is recited by the house to entertain one of the inhabitants. Unfortunately, the inhabitants are all dead, killed in a nuclear explosion with the rest of the city. The house cannot know this, because all of its functions are automatic, and so it simply continues on its programmed schedule.

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

[...]

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
(Bradbury, "There Will Come Soft Rains," from Teasdale, "There Will Come Soft Rains," nexuslearning.net)

The bolded phrase shows how Bradbury took one meaning of the poem and used it in his story; at least one city has been destroyed by nuclear war, but the house, less intelligent than even an animal or bird, doesn't know or care that its inhabitants are dead. It continues to perform its automated tasks without any larger purpose, and eventually is destroyed by a smaller fire, echoing the enormous fire that killed the people. The themes of both story and poem are similar, but the poem is a little more optimistic than the story, as it shows how nature will continue after humanity dies out; the story shows how even humanity's great innovations will be destroyed with time, leaving no trace of their existence.

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What effect does Sara Teasdale's poem "There Will Come Soft Rains" have on the short story by the same name written by Ray Bradbury?

The story gets its title from the poem by Sara Teasdale.  The poem becomes a self-fulfiling prophecy.  By using a different type of literature in Teasdale’s poem, the theme of the story is reinforced.  No one cares that the family is burned into the side of the house.

“There Will Come Soft Rains“ by Ray Bradbury describes technology without  human beings.  The story is set in August, 2026 in Allendale, California.  A fully automated house continues to run despite the fact that the human inhabitants have died in a nuclear war. 

The third person narrator details the tasks of the mechanized house.  Trained to meet the needs of its owners, the house continues on with its work.  Since the unemotional house does not realize that the family is gone, the house follows its routine despite no breakfast is eaten and no one requests anything.

Without the human beings, the house is useless.  Although everything that is a part of its schedule is helpful, Bradbury points up the meaninglessness of the house with no family for which to cook or clean.  The house does take note of disruptions to its normal procedures: the unusual weather, the birds trying to land on it.

One particular event certainly takes the story in a different direction.  The family dog appears.  It is obviously suffering from radiation sickness.  Undergoing tremendous agony and out of its head, the dog returns home to die.  With no emotion, the dog’s corpse is quickly removed by the house’s automatons.  The theme of unemotional efficiency is emphasized when the house refuses to feed the dog who is starving to death.  The mice are aggravated by the carcass left to make a mess.

There are reminders of Hiroshima when the narrator elucidates the last acts of the family memorialized on the side of the house as though it were a mural painting.  In those last moments, the mother was picking flowers, the father was mowing the lawn, the children were playing ball, with the ball frozen in mid-air.  With the incredible heat, the family symbolically becomes a part of the house forever.

The day went by as always accept for the death of the dog.  At 9:05 p.m., the house’s voice asks for the choice of poem to be read.  With no answer, the house chooses the mother’s favorite by Sara Teasdale, “There Will Come Soft Rains.” While the poem is read, soft music plays in the background.

    And not one will know of the war, not one
    Will Care at last when it is done.

    Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
    If mankind perished utterly.

Of course, the house misses the irony.  For the house, nothing changes. The author warns humanity of the danger of too much dependence on the godless world of technology.  Technology is developed to help man; however, the technology does not care if man uses its services or not.  

At the end, the house is done for the day.  Suddenly, the nuclear wind causes the house to begin to burn.  Valiantly the house tries to save itself.  Without human assistance, it is not possible.  The house burns to the ground with only one wall left standing.  From the ashes, a last voice speaks over and over:

“Today is August 5, 2026. Today is August 5, 2026…"

Technology loses the battle just as mankind lost the World War long ago.

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Bradbury’s story "There Will Come Soft Rains" includes a poem by Sara Teasdale with the same title. Do the poem and story have the same message? If not, in what way(s) do they differ?

In the Sara Teasdale poem, the speaker describes nature's response to the destruction of humankind. Rains will come, swallows will circle in the sky, frogs will sing, and flowers will bloom. None of these creatures "will know of the war" that resulted in the destruction of the human race; none will even be aware of our absence. Spring, when it comes, "Would scarcely know that we were gone."

In other words, nature will have no response to our destruction or absence but will simply keep doing what it always has done. Humankind's destruction is discussed as though it is inevitable, the result of our worst impulses, and there is a mood of peace once we are gone.

Outside the home, one side of the white house is black, "burned" and "evenly free of its white paint" except for five spots. In silhouette, the narrator describes the shape of a man mowing the lawn, a woman bending to pick flowers, a small boy, a small girl, and a ball. The house "stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes," and a nearby "ruined city" gives off a "radioactive glow" at night. The family, evidently, has been vaporized by whatever power humankind tried to manipulate. Just as in the poem, humanity has destroyed itself. Just as in the poem, nature continues on without us: "lonely foxes and whining cats" go about their business. The story shares the same mood as the poem: this sense that all we build here will crumble eventually, some day, and we will be the agents of our own destruction. And the world will go on, quite peacefully, once we are gone.

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Bradbury’s story "There Will Come Soft Rains" includes a poem by Sara Teasdale with the same title. Do the poem and story have the same message? If not, in what way(s) do they differ?

There is certainly a powerful thematic resonance between Sarah Teasdale's poem and the Ray Bradbury short story that takes its name from it. Both works are ultimately about the passing transience of human civilization when contrasted against nature. Teasdale's poem is a rumination on humanity's inconsequentiality: should humanity disappear, she suggests, nature would go on as it always has.

Bradbury's short story certainly shares a similar theme. In this story, we are looking at what may be the aftermath of humanity's destruction, as seen through the experience of an automated house. When viewed from this lens, Teasdale's message becomes somewhat complicated by the realization that, since the house was built by human beings to serve human beings, those human beings still matter, at least as far as the house's purpose is concerned. But the house is just a machine, running according to its pre-programmed routines, without having any understanding of its own. Thus the house continues functioning as it has always functioned, largely unaffected by the loss of humans.

Of course, it should be stated, the house itself is transitory also. We see this made clear with the story's ending, when the house is destroyed in a fire. Humanity's technology might have survived the destruction of humanity, but its existence is just as fleeting as the humans that created it. In this sense, Bradbury's themes share much in common with Teasdale's, portraying a similar message in a different genre.

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Bradbury’s story "There Will Come Soft Rains" includes a poem by Sara Teasdale with the same title. Do the poem and story have the same message? If not, in what way(s) do they differ?

Both Ray Bradbury's short story and Sara Teasdale's poem "There Will Come Soft Rains" share similar themes regarding the transience of humanity and civilization, the preservation of the natural world, and mankind's destructive nature. Both the short story and the poem illustrate the effects of atomic war, the destructive nature of humans, and the prolonged longevity of nature. In Bradbury's short story, the automated home is the only thing that initially survives the atomic war. However, a tree falls onto the home during a thunderstorm, which ignites a fire that burns down the house. As the one remaining wall slowly burns, the dawn shows faintly in the east, which symbolizes the preservation of the natural world. Similarly, Teasdale's poem examines the longevity of the natural world following humanity's complete annihilation.

The topic of technology is where the two works differ the most. Bradbury's short story highlights the dual use of technology by presenting both its positive and negative qualities. While technology can be used to make life easier and more efficient, it can also be used to destroy civilization. The intricacies of the automated home emphasize the theme of technology's duality while Teasdale's poem does not explore this concept. In contrast, Teasdale's poem emphasizes the natural world's preservation, longevity, and beauty rather than exploring its counterpart, which is humanity's manufactured technology.

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Bradbury’s story "There Will Come Soft Rains" includes a poem by Sara Teasdale with the same title. Do the poem and story have the same message? If not, in what way(s) do they differ?

The main message that the world could continue without humans is the same, but the messages of the story and poem differ slightly. The poem by Teasdale is about the destructive nature of humans, especially due to wars, and the fact that the world would be able to continue without people and be better off. The story focuses on technology, created by humans, as the destructive force.

The story takes place after some kind of apocalypse. The only remaining signs that people used to live there are their outlines on the side of the house, and that their dog is covered with sores and dying. The house is an automated smart house that meets humans’ every needs. It cooks, cleans, gives reminders, has a security system, and even tries to put out fires.

Until this day, how well the house had kept its peace. How carefully it had inquired, "Who goes there? What's the password?" and, getting no answer from lonely foxes and whining cats, it had shut up its windows and drawn shades in an old maidenly preoccupation with self-protection which bordered on a mechanical paranoia.

The house choosing Teasdale’s poem at a time when there are no humans left is ironic. The house is continuing as if the humans were there, trying to take care of them, not realizing there are no people left to take care of.

And not one will know of the war, not one

Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,

if mankind perished utterly.

Both the poem and the story have the message that nature is nature, and people cannot control it. The house is destroyed by a fire when a tree breaks a window, overturning a can of solvent onto the stove. Despite its technology, the house cannot put out the fire. It is as if nature is taking back the house.

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What effect does Sara Teasdale's poem have on the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

The science fiction short story "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury was written and published during the Cold War era, when many people feared the devastation of nuclear war. In the story, an automated house continues to operate despite the absence of its human occupants. The reader learns what has happened to them when Bradbury describes a burned outside wall with human silhouettes charred into it. Beyond, the ruined city glows with radioactivity. It is obvious that the dreaded nuclear conflict has already occurred.

The house functions normally until a falling branch shatters a window and starts a fire. The house's automated defense mechanisms are unable to cope with the swiftly spreading fire, and the house burns down. It had been the only house left standing in the area. Now, there are only devastated remains of the human civilization that once flourished in that place.

The poem by Sara Teasdale that Bradbury quotes gives expression to the emotional impact and message of this story. Bradbury gives readers the image of a house that continues to function until, eventually, nature brings about its destruction. Humanity has been eliminated, its works are disappearing, and nature is taking over again. Teasdale writes of a postwar world in which birds sing, frogs croak, trees blossom, and rains will come softly and touch the ground. The war will be forgotten, and nature will be indifferent if "mankind perished utterly." The poem emphasizes the message of Bradbury's story: if humankind destroys itself, nature will swallow up what we have built and continue to function as if we had never existed.

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What effect does Sara Teasdale's poem have on the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

In this short story, Bradbury uses the poem with the same title as a recitation that the house itself provides for the family who is no longer alive. Both Bradbury and Teasdale convey similar themes in their works, and the poem strengthens Bradbury's warning of the inherent dangers of technological progress.

Consider this line from the poem:

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

This echoes the core plot of Bradbury's short story: The poem is ultimately recited to no audience. There has seemingly been a nuclear war which has completely obliterated humanity, burning this family's shadows into the walls of the house outside. Who is left to discuss this war? No one. And yet, nature prevails in spite of humanity's absence. This is also echoed in Teasdale's poem:

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

In humanity's absence, nature has continued, unconcerned with the lack of a human population. The sun has continued to rise and set. The wind still blows. And rains still fall.

The placement of the poem both strengthens the warnings that Bradbury conveys through his mechanical house, which ultimately cannot save itself, and reinforces the story's poignant tone.

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What effect does Sara Teasdale's poem have on the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

In "There Will Come Soft Rains," Bradbury places Sara Teasdale's poem in the middle of the story, and this has a number of implications. First of all, it creates irony. Teasdale's poem, for instance, talks about how nature will not notice the destruction of humanity, and this is exactly what happens in the story. The house selects this poem because Mrs. McClellan is not there to choose one herself. It is ironic that a poem about human destruction should be her favorite, given that human destruction is exactly what caused her demise.

Secondly, by including this poem, Bradbury reinforces the absence of people. In Teasdale's poem, for example, there are no people, only birds and trees. Similarly, in the story, all humanity is gone, leaving only the house and its mechanical mice behind. They are now free to exist without human interference, just like the flora and fauna of Teasdale's poem. This creates a somber mood in the story as the reader comes to terms with this sense of loss.

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What effect does Sara Teasdale's poem have on the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

Bradbury's use of Sara Teasdale's poem "There Will Come Soft Rains" complements the theme of his own short story by the same title.  Both poem and story alike show how nature will continue on even after mankind's demise.  Teasdale's poem soft natural imagery serves as a strong contrast to Bradbury's fully automatic house continuing on its day following a nuclear apocalypse.  Teasdale's poem portrays the birds and trees as being oblivious to humanity's wars and strife:

"And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;"

Bradbury's short story draws inspiration from Teasdale's poem; in the end, even the fully-automated house cannot survive on its own.  An errant wind results in a fire which completely destroys the home; nature once again proves victorious.

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