It’s raining hard here in Athens, and the sound is amplified into something furious by the tin roof on our house. I can’t help but listen to the rain, and think of a poem I once read. Here it is.
By Francis Ponge, translated by Peter Riley
In the yard where I watch it fall, the rain comes down at several different speeds. In the middle it is a delicate and threadbare curtain (or a net), an implacable but relatively slow descent of quite small drops, a sempiternal precipitation lacking vigor, an intense fragment of the pure meteor. A little away from the walls on each side heavier drops fall separately, with more noise. Some look the size of a grain of corn, others a pea, or almost a marble. On the parapets and balustrades of the window the rain runs horizontally, and on the inside of these obstacles it hangs down in convex loops. It streams in a thin sheet over the entire surface of a zinc roof straight below me—a pattern of watered silk, in the various currents, from the imperceptible bosses and undulations of the surface. In the gutter there, it flows with the contention of a deep but only slightly inclined stream, until suddenly it plunges in a perfectly vertical thread, quite thickly platted, to the ground where it breaks and scatters in shining needles.
Each of these forms has its own particular manner of moving; each elicits a particular sound. The whole thing is intensely alive in the manner of a complicated mechanism, both precise and precarious, like a piece of clockwork in which the activating force is the weight of a mass precipitated from vapor.
The ringing of the vertical threads on the pavement, the gurgling from the gutters, the miniature gong-chimes, multiply and resonate together in a consort which avoids monotony, and is not without delicacy.
And when the pressure is relaxed, some of the clockwork continues to function for a while, getting slower and slower, until the whole machine stops. Then, if the sun comes out again, the whole thing is quite soon effaced—the shiny apparatus evaporates: it has been raining.
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Source: The Random House Book of Twentieth Century French Poetry, edited by Paul Auster.
Photo credit: "rain drops" by Flickr user Austin Tolin.