We read Robert Creeley’s “The Rain” in poetry class I taught last semester. I can’t remember if we got around to discussing it, but I do remember the way the sense of it would begin to coalesce, and then fade away untranslated. It was a group effort to put meaning together. But it popped up in yesterday’s “Poem of the Day,” and when I opened it today it came with startling clarity, and now I’m kind of unsettled and not ready to give in to sleep yet, even though it’s nearing midnight.
All night the sound hadcome back again,and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.
That is it, isn’t it. The nagging patter tugging ceaselessly at my lungs, itching up my throat sometimes: last year unresolved, making me feel weighted down and restless, like the sudden rain squalls in Virginia used to.
What am I to myselfthat must be remembered,insisted upon
so often? Is it
But I tried. Didn’t I? I tried. You told me that faith is childish, and I looked – I did, I swear I did – but I couldn’t find anything worthy of replacing human sorrow and divine grace. What am I to myself is a sinner, but also I am beloved – he ate with Zaccheus, after all, and he forgave Peter. I insist on that. I insist on atonement, and nothing less. I need it for being. Nothing less will do.
that never the ease,even the hardness,of rain falling
will have for mesomething other than this,something not so insistent—am I to be locked in this
No, I don’t rue it, though these contradictions exceed me. Or at least, I don’t rue the sacrifice. I knew I don’t belong, and now I feel it too. This final uneasiness. Let it rattle my convictions. In daring to insist on atonement, I’m claiming real reality.
Love, if you love me,lie next to me.Be for me, like rain,
the getting outof the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-lust of intentional indifference.Be wet
with a decent happiness.
My idea of it isn’t real enough to lie next to me. The “real” is no better – there are heart sore and heart hungry among you, but you are proudest of your children who are content with small worlds. It isn’t fair of me to call you fatuous, but tired yes and intentionally indifferent yes.
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Eliot, not Creeley.
I wish I could take you with me. I wish I could pull the whole edifice of it all along with me. I wish you could feel the ground solid beneath you, and that it could give you a decent happiness. A giddy happiness, even, sometimes.
But that’s not my role. He came down for that, and you have to see him on your own.
In the waiting, then, Lord, here I am.