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Poem Commentary on "before summer rain" by Rainer Maria Rilke

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By Eddie Royle English HL, Ms. Lacy. Poem Commentary: Before Summer Rain A storm can provoke many emotions in a person. Rainer Maria Rilke in his poetry cleverly insinuates themes of nature, religion, and childhood, from a personal aspect to a collective one. The poem, Before Summer Rain, describes the narrator's experience of the encroaching storm, as he/she stares out of a window. Rilke, in his poem, Before Summer Rain, evokes emotions associated with witnessing a storm and how these feelings compel him to recollect his childhood. The structure of the poem is intuitively assembled to follow a mood of anticipation and then to a feeling of nostalgia. At the beginning of the poem, the reader is presented with the title, "Before Summer Rain"; this phrase has a positive connotation to it, implying a sunny summer's day with a soft rain shower. However, as one reads the first line of the poem there is an immediate juxtaposition, "suddenly, from all the green around you". ...read more.


The use of no commas in the first stanza rushes the reader's pace, and it grows and grows until you reach this crescendo and then the usage of commas implies a relieved tone in the narrator. Describing the coming rain, Rilke builds anticipation in the reader through the use of diction. The speed of the poem in the first two stanzas has a very swift speed, "suddenly, from all the green", the use of the word "suddenly" suggests everything is happening quickly and instantly there is little time to think both for the reader and narrator. The rushing tempo continues into the second stanza, " urgent whistling of a plover". The word "urgent" strengthens the hurried tone of the poem, and by alluding to the bird "plover"; it resembles this last cry before the storm, warning everybody and everything. Throughout the poem, there is a general subject of loneliness, "in total silence", the author's use of "total silence" hints, the narrator is alone, and the mood is dreary. ...read more.


Once the rain has begun, there is a loud noise in the house, "they weren't suppose to hear what we are saying", the reader can imagine the loud rain rattling the roof, while this narrator feels alone and no one can "hear" each other. Although there is a loud noise, the narrator is transported almost in to a daydream, remembering the past, "reflected on the faded tapestries", this memory is coming back to the narrator, as he/she sees and hears the rain. Although the narrator can still see what is happening around him/her, "the chill" shows the physical touch of the cold weather and the "uncertain sunlight" could be a reference to lightning. The narrator is perhaps in a flashback of "those long childhood hours when you were so afraid". The last line evokes emotion in the reader and suggests that it is a childhood memory similar to everyone, and yet tells the poet's sorrowful memories. The poem reads as a powerful expression of a common experience to many people, which fully succeeds in having the reader recall those tender childhood moments of fear, uncertainty, and recollection that accompany the arrival of a summer storm. ...read more.

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