As with all translated poems, it is often hard to fully grasp the full meaning of this short, downhearted poem, ‘It’s Raining’. Originally, ‘It’s Raining’ was called Il Pleut before its translation. I think ‘It’s Raining’ is about depression caused by war and it uses the weather to help symbolize those feelings. That opinion is informed by Apollinaire’s life experiences. The poem draws heavily on the idea of sounds and different sounds are prevalent throughout the poem.
Form and Tone
The poem, ‘It’s Raining’, is in one stanza and is five lines long. The lines are all a similar length. Originally this poem was written in French and its presentation was rather unique at the time with each line being written vertically (but at a slight angle) down the page to represent the pouring of rain. The poem is written in free verse and is very melancholy in tone. It is filled with sadness. This may be as he experienced a lot of death as he fought in the First World War.
Analysis of It’s Raining
its raining womens voices as if they were dead even in memory
This line almost uses synesthesia (the ability to experience one sense using an inappropriate sensory organ, i.e. to smell a colour, or see a sound) in describing the narrator’s feelings. You can see rain, but you cannot see women’s voices. But the fact that he describes the voices as being “as if dead” suggests, perhaps screaming or maybe an eerie silence? This line creates a real sense of misery but also a mystery.
its raining you too marvelous encounters of my life oh droplets
This line is slightly more positive and emphasizes how his mind is awash with different emotions. Depression sufferers often talk about their mind racing. I think this is what he is describing. The fact that he is thinking about torturous events and happy memories at the same time.
and those clouds rear and begin to whinny a universe of auricular cities
The fact that he describes the clouds as rearing suggests that they are ready to pounce or jump. Or to unleash a torrent. Once again though the clouds produce a sound, the term whinny describes a high-pitched neigh, which ties in with the comment about rearing up, the way a horse would, and auricular is things pertaining to the ear. Could this mean a noisy cities? Invaded cities would certainly be noisy and France was invaded during the First World War.
listen to it rain while regret and disdain weep an ancient music
Once again this line is filled with sorrow as the narrator implores the reader to listen to the rain and how their feelings of regret and disdain cause an ancient music. This is what suggests the narrator is referring to war. As wars have raged on our planet as long as history has been recorded.
listen to the the fetters falling that bind you high and low
The last line leaves us with hope as it talks of being released from chains. If the assertion that ‘It’s Raining’ is about the tortured feelings experienced during wartime perhaps this last line symbolizes the feelings felt when the war is over.
About Guillaume Apollinaire
Guillaume Apollinaire was a famous French poet, writer, and art critic. He is highly influential in many ways and believed to be the person that coined the phrase cubism to describe that particular style of art. (which is an impressive claim to fame) his poetry was also very experimental and groundbreaking, perhaps not for his use of words, but more so how the words were placed on the page. In modern poetry, it isn’t uncommon to see words arranged to make shapes but when Apollinaire developed the technique it was groundbreaking.