‘Rain‘ by Kazim Ali describes a rainstorm and the impact the scene had on one speaker and his perception of the world.
In the first lines, the speaker begins by describing the sky as ink-filled. The dark clouds gathered and people began running for cover. Despite this fact, he feels a connection to the rain throughout his whole body. At the end of the text, this connection becomes spiritual. He speaks on his notebook, the impact of the rain on the storefronts, and its ability to cleanse one’s mind and body.
Poetic Techniques in Rain
‘Rain’ is a twelve-line poem that is separated into couplets or sets of two lines. These couplets do not all rhyme, but the majority of them do. This is mostly due to the fact that Ali utilized epistrophe. Epistrophe is the repetition of the same word, or a phrase, at the end of multiple lines or sentences. In this case, “rain” ends seven of the twelve lines.
Ali also makes use of metaphor and simile. These two forms of figurative langue are similar and were utilized by Ali in order to make the storm feel alive, more vibrant, and real to the reader. The sky is compared through metaphor to “thick strokes of ink” and then later to a “dark bowl”.
Personification is used briefly in ‘Rain’ when Ali describes it as “sightless”. It is given the ability, or lack thereof, to see. But, at the same time, he is referring to the impact the rain has on those who experience it. It blocks out one’s ability to navigate properly, changing the overall experience of the world.
You can read the full poem here.
Analysis of Rain
With thick strokes of ink the sky fills with rain.(…)No one in the city moves under the quick sightless rain.
In the first lines of ‘Rain’, the speaker begins by describing, through figurative language, how the sky filled up with clouds. He compares, through metaphor, the dark rain clouds to a “thick stroke of ink”. This is an apt comparison because of the dark shade of the ink/clouds, and the connection to liquid. The black ink will run, just as the rain will.
The next line is different, it seems to come from the perspective of the speaker himself, or perhaps a larger segment of the population. He, or they,
run for cover but secretly pray…for more rain.
The first and second lines are only two of seven that end with the word “rain”. This is a technique known as epistrophe. Rain inspires people to feel in different ways. In the second line, the speaker pretends that the rain is something he has to get out of (perhaps by habit) but in his heart, he’s enjoying it and wanting it to continue.
The next rhyming couplet the speaker makes two more observations. They are connected, yet separate from one another (as is seen through their positioning within the text together, as well as sparing use of end punctuation). He says that in the rainstorm, he heard “a voice saying [his] name”. This alludes to an internal connection to the workings of the earth and an oneness with the falling rain. Additionally, he describes how there was no one moving in the city. The rain was falling quickly and had stunned everyone by its sudden arrival. It’s impossible to see through or navigate.
The pages of my notebook soak, then curl. I’ve written:(…)The window trembles; liquid glass could shatter into rain.
In the next two lines, the speaker goes on to describe how the rain impacts him. His notebook gets soaked, and once it starts to dry out a little, the pages curl. Here, he depicts a process, a change, and an effect of the storm. By following this line up with a line from the notebook, it makes it seem as though he was outside writing in the rain. The line reads,
“Yogis opened their mouths for hours to drink the rain.”
A yogi is a practitioner of meditation in India. Ali, himself is of Indian heritage. The rain is accepted by this group, they, along with the speaker (at least internally) feel the importance of the storm.
The next two lines utilize anaphora, or the repetition of words at the beginning of multiple lines. Both begin with “The” and provide the reader with more details about the storm. Ali compares the sky to “a bowl of dark water”. When it comes down it rinses one’s face. It is cleansing, clarifying, and refreshing. The whole world is impacted by it, as is made clear in line eight.
I am a dark bowl, waiting to be filled.(…)The night collapses into your skin. I am the rain.
In the final four lines of ‘Rain’, the speaker calls himself “a dark bowl, waiting to be filled”. There is something missing from inside him, something that the rain alludes to. When it called his name in the first lines, he was speaking about that connection. The speaker considers what would happen if he opened his mouth. He thinks he’d, metaphorically, be drowned “in the rain”.
In the last two lines of ‘Rain’, the speaker continues utilizing the pronoun “I” in order to describe his own experience of the storm. He also brings “you” into the narrative. This is either a simple change in perception in order to expand his experiences, or he might be considering another person at this point. Either way, the transformative nature of the rain is emphasized and merged with the human body and consciousness.