Sunday, 24 June 2012

Day 3: Glitter-Drizzle

Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney is a master at crafting words. One of my favourite poets, I am particularly in awe of his ability to create the greatest sound effects in his poems. 

Because it's raining today (for the past week actually), I chose 'The Rain Stick' as my poem today. Because rain can be quite magical as Heaney shows us in this poem. Note the sound effects. You can almost hear the rain, the sluice-rush and sprinkle of it. What this poet  does brilliantly is create words of his own to capture a feeling, a sound, a sensation, like 'diminuendo' and 'glitter-drizzle.'

Fed up with the rain? A rain stick would be a good prop, but no matter. Look and listen to it again. This time, through the eyes and ears of a someone who sees it as wonder.

The Rain Stick  - Seamus Heaney

Up-end the stick and what happens next
is a music that you never would have known
to listen for. In a cactus stalk

Downpour, sluice-rush, spillage and backwash
come flowing through. You stand there like a pipe
being played by water, you shake it again lightly

and diminuendo runs through all its scales
like a gutter stopping trickling. And now here comes
a sprinkle of drops out of the freshened leaves,

Then subtle little wets off grass and daisies;
the glitter-drizzle, almost-breaths of air.
up-end the stick again. What happens next

is undiminished for having happened once,
twice, ten, and thousand times before.
who cares if all the music that transpires

is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?
You are like a rich man entering heaven
through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.  


  1. Love this poem esp. the last two lines!! Captures the beauty of rain perfectly. I love the way he paints the picture that rain is something celestial- which it is! Can you really imagine a world without rain? Good choice! - B

  2. Thanks! It does indeed. And no, I suppose I'd prefer rain to a desert scorched alternative!

  3. if a RICH man ( who is often said to be denied heaven ) can enter heaven through the ear of a raindrop, is that a reminder to appreciate the abundance of celestial gifts-like rain, no matter how much we have? I love listening to the rain, from inside usually! Carmel

  4. I think it is Carmel yes. And also it's a pun on that famous Biblical saying. It's like - you will become rich if you're able to appreciate the joys of rain - ie. nature's offerings.
    Yes, I like listening to it too - most definitely from inside! Especially heavy torrential rain.
    And I just love the language in this poem - 'diminuendo' 'sluice-rush' 'glitter-drizzle' - Heaney really knows how to create a suitable word for the occasion


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