The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“It weeps in my heart” is actually the first line of an untitled work in the group of poems called “Ariettes oubliées” (“Forgotten Melodies”). This sixteen-line poem, composed of hexasyllabic quatrains in the original French, contains a very musical rhyme scheme known as rimes croisées, or what might be noted as the following pattern: abaa, cdcc, eaee, fdff. The epigraph, “It rains gently on the town,” attributed to Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine’s companion and literary confrere, is not found among Rimbaud’s known body of work, and the tribute’s origin, therefore, remains a mystery. Many critics have made suppositions as to its source, but nothing has been verified positively.

Many of Verlaine’s poems have musical titles, as his artistic credo (from his poem “Art poétique”) was “De la musique avant toute chose” (“Music first and foremost”), and his emphasis on the musicality of the poem is evident throughout his career. The title of this collection, “Romances,” connotes sentimentality, and the echoes of such sounds as “heart” and “rain” (in French, coeur and pluie) are reminiscent of the simple medieval ballads and troubadour songs.

The poem is written in the first person and is a lyric poem in the classical tradition that expresses the intensely personal feelings of the narrator. The first quatrain sets the mood, explaining that the poet’s weeping heart...

(The entire section is 460 words.)

Forms and Devices

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

In its original French, the poem’s rhyme scheme ends in mostly soft feminine vowel sounds. The tonality is a light one; the poet tries to emulate the sound of softly falling rain. Such consonants as pl and t that echo throughout the original French poem are also reminiscent of the “song” of the rain that drops onto the roofs and the groundtois and terre.

Verlaine uses metonymy: The heart is given the function of representing the whole human being filled with pain. Although the exterior rain falls gently, the weeping in his heart is certainly not as pleasant; therefore, his use of the simile comparing the tears of the heart with the rain on the town really serves to show a dissimilarity rather than an equation. The alliterative devices of the “sweet sound” contrast with his pervasive unhappiness.

The poem’s only resolution is the declarative statement that “It’s far the worst pain/ not to know why.” The poet expresses no newfound knowledge during the poem. He continually questions: What is the cause of my pain? There is no answer. The questions merely echo the pain and his ponderings provide no relief. This device of using rhetorical questions shows the poet’s attempt at blending rationality with emotion. Because there is no transformation, it is clear that the poet is stating that logical answers cannot be applied to unnameable feelings. His “grief’s without reason.”


(The entire section is 451 words.)