There Will Come Soft Rains

“There will come soft rains, and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sounds…”

We all get songs stuck in our heads, but what about poems?

I’ve had a poem stuck in my head for years now and never knew what to do about it. 

“There will come soft rains….”

Over and over, like a chant, incessant and persistent.

I knew one day I’d attach these lines to some illustrations of sorts, but had trouble deciding how to proceed.

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

I had sketched a few ideas out inspired by some of the lines in the poem. Swallows, frogs, and rain drops all floated around my sketchbooks, disjointed, slow to emerge into coherent compositions.

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

This poem by Sara Teasedale was written during WW2. In it she asserts the pointlessness of war by reminding us that life goes on. This is not to be dismissive of the horrors of war. It simply makes note that there is much more to experience beyond the petty ways of men, and that there is solace to be found in understanding how resilient life is. 

I choose to think about this poem as a comforting reminder that there are bigger, better ways of living. There is hope for a peaceful future, especially when we realign with the lessons of the natural world and connect with a deeper way of being. 

I illustrated four pieces in graphite loosely based on four stanzas of the poem. Some of my own thoughts are written beside each piece, and Sara’s full poem is posted beside the final image.


“Swallows Circling With Their Shimmering Sound”

Graphite on cotton paper. 11″x11″
There I was, trudging up a trail along the barren spine of a stormy mountain. Climbing until I reached the cloud-shrouded crest, I took a seat on a damp rock to rest my legs. Overwhelmed by the demands of daily life, I’d escaped to find solace on a lonesome peak for the day, longing to shed the calamitous roar of life and submit to a quieter calm.

A gentle rain prickled my cheeks, blurring the barrier between body and land. I sat helplessly exposed to the emptiness around me, my mind stuck ruminating on troubles leftover from the life I’d left thousands of feet below. 

Up on that high and lonesome summit, a flash of movement broke my trance:

Swallows. Swallows, unmistakable with their tapered wings and distinctively forked tails. One then two then dozens of quick-moving shapes darting through glittering rain drops, circling my restless head.

This troupe of small bodied birds spiraled in one feathered, frenzied vortex of synchronized threads. With each swoop, pivot, and twirl of their dramatic aerial dance, the birds unwittingly stitched the pieces of my world-weary heart into something whole again. 

The longer I stood in silence, the louder the shimmering sounds of swallows and rain sang around me, each note weaving my body back into the intricate folds of life’s boundless tapestry.

“Frogs In Their Pools Singing At Night (War Time)”

Graphite on cotton paper. 11″x11″

Two of the world’s last remaining Middle East tree frogs sit in one of the few shallow pools dotting Palestine’s arid landscape.

They shelter beneath an olive branch severed from its mother tree, on which small pale flowers still attempt to bloom.

From the quiet of their moonless oasis, these endangered frogs hunt and mate and sing as their kin always have, unware of the war raging around them.

Reverberating croaks echo the booming bombs that send ripples through the water’s surface. Drops of springtime rain freefall from the sooty sky, bouncing off leaves hanging heavy with ash and grief. The duet of rain and frogsong nearly drown the searing screams ripping through this ravaged night.

Despite an uncertain future, ancient instinct compels the frogs to come together beneath the olive branch. Cradled by a desert dark they frantically mate, watering the shriveled roots of their own mother tree in a desperate amplectic embrace.

From the quiet of this moonless oasis, a new generation will hunt and mate and sing as their kin always have, unaware of the war raging around them.

Tadpoles emerge from frothy eggs in dutiful succession, bearing proverbial torches of flowering olive branches, shapeshifting through their fragile lives with ardent hearts that hum with life’s ancestral hymn.

A hymn,
An ode,
Or perhaps an unwitting plea,
For peace.


“Not One Would Mind, Neither Bird Nor Tree, If Mankind Perished Utterly”

Graphite on cotton paper. 11″x11″

The bubbling song of a Pacific Wren is one of the most hopeful songs my body knows.

Pacific Wrens commonly reside in soggy forests, spending their lives darting between thickets of unfurling ferns and spongy mosses. Small and sweet, these birds have one of the most complex trills in the entire bird world, and one that, to my ears, mimics the trickling sound of falling rain.

The wren belts out her carefree carol, heedless of man or civilization or money or wars. She finds comfort in the dense patches of sorrel, nestling beneath arching ferns to dry her drenched feathers.

She moves through the undergrowth seeking her next meal, blissfully unaware of whether or not she’ll actually find one.

A still life of wings and woods and waterdrops, she exists only in this moment.

For her, that is reason enough to sing.


“Spring Herself, When She Woke At Dawn, Would Scarcely Know That We Were Gone”

Graphite on cotton paper. 11″x11″

“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.”

-Sara Teasedale 

Similar Posts