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Themes in There Will Come Soft Rains

Themes Examples in There Will Come Soft Rains:

Text of the Poem

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"Not one would..."   (Text of the Poem)

The grammar tense shifts here and throughout the final couplets. Instead of using “will come,” Teasdale moves into a hypothetical extension of her argument that the world will be able to move on just fine without war. Changes in tense like this strongly affect the reading by allowing the poet to catch her reader off guard or reveal a more powerful revelation.

"it..."   (Text of the Poem)

The pronoun “it” here technically refers to “war” from the preceding line. However, looking forward to the last lines of the poem, “war” likely represents humankind in general. (After all, it is a human contrivance.) Teasdale sets up the main idea of the poem in this passage and then refines it in the last few couplet: Nature and those in the natural world will not know about war nor care about the end of it because it is a human aspect that will eventually fade away.

"not one..."   (Text of the Poem)

In this line, and others to come, “not one” refers to those in the natural world: robins, frogs, rains, and the earth. Humankind is only talked about in this poem and does not have its own agency, which further emphasizes the power and importance of Nature: it will outlast us.

"on a low fence-wire;..."   (Text of the Poem)

Since birds can fly, it doesn’t matter how tall the fence is—birds can always sit on top. However, since positionality is often used as an indication of status, the placement of the robin on top of the “low fence-wire” speaks to the power that Nature has over humankind. The fence’s “low” attribute and the robin’s sitting on top of it suggests that Nature will always have power over humankind.

"And frogs in the pools singing at night,..."   (Text of the Poem)

Considering the structure of the poem, with the contrast between what will be and what currently is, we can infer the desire is for a night where the only sounds are those of frogs singing. This suggests that the current night is less idyllic and possibly speaks to the effects war has at all times of day.

"dawn..."   (Text of the Poem)

“Dawn” is associated with the start of a new day, a kind of “rebirth” in which possibilities are seemingly endless. Since a new day, or dawn, can also be extended to refer to ages, cycles, and eras, this word provides additional meanings. Thus, dawn here underscores the possibility of a world without humans. Note that the positive connotations associated with the word remind the reader that Teasdale’s newly awakened world is not a dismal one. The world without humans exists in a state of peace and goes on to thrive without us.

"(War Time)..."   (Text of the Poem)

Teasdale wrote this poem in loose, iambic pentameter with a few tetrameter couplets towards the end. The poem has a rhyme scheme AA BB CC DD EE FF, creating a very symmetrical structure that reminds the reader of the cyclical continuity of nature. This theme pervades throughout the poem.

"Spring herself..."   (Text of the Poem)

Teasdale uses personification (a figure of speech in which a thing, an idea, or an animal is given human attributes) to contrast the beauty of nature with the horrors of humankind. Notice too, that Spring is specifically given the feminine pronouns “she/her” since spring is associated with renewal or creation. Consider also that “mankind” is never capitalized in the poem while Spring is capitalized here, which further emphasizes nature’s esteem and power.

"the war..."   (Text of the Poem)

World War I had just ended in 1918, only two years prior to this poem’s publication. Since WWI brought with it the introduction of widescale chemical warfare, the effects of the war on the human population and psychology were devastating, but the earth suffered great losses as well. Notice however, that the ending of the poem offers a comforting end to this suffering: nature will renew itself, and the horrors of human warfare will prove temporary.

"wild..."   (Text of the Poem)

The inclusion of the word “wild” in relation to the plum trees is important. The depiction of nature as free and “wild,” along with the inclusion of the resilient plum trees, thus emphasizes the inability of humans to “tame” nature. Nature will persist how it chooses to, and humans hold little power over its fate in the long run.

"plum-trees..."   (Text of the Poem)

Plum trees are fast-growing and extremely adaptable trees that flourish without requiring human intervention. The symbol of the plum trees here thus underscore the theme that nature is resilient and does not depend on the continued existence of mankind in order to survive and thrive.

"circling..."   (Text of the Poem)

Recall that the rhyming couplets and alliteration give the poem a symmetrical and cyclical sound, reminding the reader of the cyclical quality of nature. Here, the “circling” of the swallows underscores this idea of cycles. As swallows are associated specifically with spring, and since spring is associated with renewal, the swallows are symbolic of nature’s approaching rebirth.

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