Just before sunset a beautiful blue cloud snapped the gold chain
Which imprisoned it and poured down a huge, still, warm rain.
The dust was a million mouths that drank up the downpour,
And their sweet breath drifted to us through the open door.
It had been a long dry, the renascent fields had withered;
For all the first promise and sweat poured, small fruit was gathered.
Many had lost faith and had left the land to work in factories;
And when men never see the stars they forget to pour courtesies.
We poured scorn on old gods, and blood to crimson a new dawn,
And pushed the sky back and back to a point of no return.
Now the rain has come men will pour their hearts into a new mold
And set up a new image of God—a blue cloud rimmed with gold.
There is no sense in affirming or denying God’s mercies.
He pours rain; but the light within rain he withholds from our eyes.
This has a nice indirect way of making its point. We all respond to that bountiful shower at golden sunset time. We soon see it is an analogy for the coming of the Avatar bringing beauty and refreshment after a long arid drought. ‘Renascent fields’ suggests the renaissance which of course the poet saw as a false rebirth bearing little fruit. It has also led to the dehumanization of labour in factories. Old forms of belief have been scorned and the great sheddings of blood have not been for any meaningful sacrifice.
The sky has stopped being the friendly home of the transcendent as we have extended our knowledge and exploration of empty space. Nature no longer symbolises the unseen divine.
We can now though all respond to the beauty of a fresh start. But the poem says more than this. The occurrence of the verb ‘pour’ and its variations in every stanza alerts us to the crux of the poem. This is that we are all crucially blind to the down pouring of the light of grace and mercy that is the inner reality of this new incarnation. We will all benefit from the refreshing rain of his mercy but hearts will not be open to a down pouring of inner light. This is a message ‘beyond the season’s coiled scope’, to use a phrase from the next poem.
Try reading this and the next poem with six beats to a line.