The Rainy Day

The Rainy Day

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

______________________

This Longfellow poem is fifteen lines long broken up into three five line stanzas. The first two stanzas have an AABBA rhyme scheme while the third has an AABBC rhyme scheme.

Stanza One

The first line begins by introducing the Reader to a phrase that will be repeated throughout the poem. The day is… dark and dreary.” The rest of the stanza depicts a struggle between a personified wind that “is never weary” and nature. The vine clings – struggling but hanging on – while the dead leaves fall at every gust. The scene is depressing. To emphasize that the scene is depressing, the poet reuses the phrase from line one. He tells us that “the day is dark and dreary.”

Stanza Two

The second stanza is a repetition of the first, with an important difference. Rather than merely the day being cold, and dark, and dreary, the Speaker tells us in Line 6 that his life is those things. The repetition of Stanza One continues throughout. Line 7 is an exact duplicate of Line 2, except that now the rain and wind are no longer literal. They are metaphors for the troubles faced during the Speaker’s life.

Lines 8 and 9 are similar to their stanza one counterparts as well. See the comparison here:

The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,

My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,

Instead of nature fighting against an attack from the wind, the Speaker’s “hopes of youth” fight against the never weary attacks of life experience. Like the dead leaves in stanza one, his hopes fall, too.

Line 10 is exactly the same as Line 5 with one exception. Rather than the day being dark and dreary, “the days” are dark and dreary. The temporary struggle of nature is now a permanent lifelong struggle against disappointment. We leave the second stanza feeling a great sense of depression.

Stanza Three

Line 11 is a change in tone. The Speaker addresses his own heart. The technique of addressing someone in poetry, who is not present, is called “apostrophe.” The Speaker tells his heart to be still and to stop pining over days past. He reminds his heart that the storms of life are temporary and that the sun is behind the clouds. He adds, too, to finish the stanza, that everyone goes through the storms of life. He describes this as “the common fate of all.”

The poem closes in Line 15 with a repetition of a phrase that we have seen, but now slightly altered.

Some days must be dark and dreary.

The progression of the final line of each stanza is completed.

[Line 5] “The day is…”
[Line 10] “The days are…”
[Line 15] “Some days must…”

The poem concludes with the Speaker placing his troubles in a proper perspective. The choice to change the rhyme scheme here reflects a change in the tone, too. In the first two stanzas, the line leads one to believe that prior days were better, and the return to the rhyme scheme of the first line of the stanza reflects that. Here, the stanza’s tone is one that implies good days remain ahead. Therefore, the choice to add a “C” to the rhyme scheme reflects optimism and a sense of moving forward.

Better days are ahead even if the rainy days of now are necessary.

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