‘Tears Fall in My Heart’ by Paul Verlaine is a four stanza poem that is separated into sets of four lines, or quatrains. Each of these quatrains conforms to a consistent rhyme scheme. Verlaine chose the pattern, abaa cdcc efee ghgg, to structure his lines. They also vary in meter between five and six syllables.
A reader should also take note of the fact that the ending words of the first and last lines of each stanza are the same. Repetition has been utilized so prominently in this piece in order to further emphasize the constant sound of rain described throughout. The speaker returns to the same words just as his emotions return to him.
Summary of Tears Fall in My Heart
The poem begins with the speaker stating that there is rain falling outside and tears falling in his heart. These two features of his world are interchangeable. As the rain lightens up and begins to touch the ground softly, so does his pain. Although the hurt remains, he starts to become numb.
In the second half of the poem it’s clear that the speaker does not understand why he is in such pain. There is no clear answer to his grief, a fact that greatly frustrates him.
Analysis of Tears Fall in My Heart
Tears fall in my heart
Rain falls on the town;
what is this numb hurt
that enters my heart?
In the first stanza of this piece, the speaker begins by utilizing the line which would later become the title of the poem. He states that “tears fall in [his] heart.” The image of water, whether in the form of tears or rain, will be repeated throughout the verses. Verlaine chose the element of rain to mirror the emotions associated with tears, but also for its unceasing nature.
When it is raining, the drops are innumerable and it seems as if they will never stop. This is a perfect representation of how the speaker feels. While the “tears” for his loss are falling in his “heart” there is also rain falling “on the town.” Here is the first juxtaposition between the two different types of water. The speaker is seeing his own emotions projected out from his heart onto the landscape of his town. It is as if the whole world is sharing in his grief.
In the next two lines, the speaker asks the reader a question. The question is rhetorical in that he does not really want an answer. It is only posed in an effort to explain the speaker’s own situation more easily. He asks what the “numb hurt” is that “enters [his] heart.” New emotions, less poignant, but still present, are consuming him.
Ah,the soft sound of rain
on roofs, on the ground!
To a dulled heart they came,
ah, the song of the rain!
In the second quatrain, the speaker returns to the rain that is falling all around him. The sound has become muted. It is not the pounding storm that it could’ve been. Instead, it comes lightly and consistently. This is a clear reference to the speaker’s own emotional state. Although he still feels hurt (from what the reader doesn’t know) but it has been calmed some by the passage of time.
From where he is in his home he can hear the rain on the “roofs” and “on the ground.” It lands softly but he can hear it all the same. The rain is falling to earth and coming to him as if to comfort him. Or instead, remind him that his pain is still there. It has created a kind of “song” in his environment. Its persistence is becoming a part of his everyday life.
Tears without reason
in the disheartened heart.
What? no trace of treason?
This grief’s without reason.
The second half of the poem provides the reader with a little more information about the source of the speaker’s grief. It quickly becomes clear that the speaker himself is unsure why he feels the way he does. There is not a clear “reason,” (a word which is repeated twice in this stanza) for his unhappiness.
The first line states that his tears are “without reason.” This comes as a surprise as he seemed so set in his grief in the previous two quatrains. Now, he is admitting he’s not sure why he’s crying in his heart. All he is able to tell his listeners is that his “heart” is “disheartened.” There is something wrong within him that makes him feel sad when he has no clear reason to.
Through the next lines, the speaker makes it clear that he is as bothered by this as a reader might be. He questions his own lack of “treason.” The speaker has not been betrayed or done anything resembling betrayal. He reiterates in the last line that his “grief” is “without reason.”
It’s far the worst pain
to never know why
without love or disdain
my heart has such pain!
In the last four lines, the speaker makes sure to emphasize the reality of his pain. He does not want a reader to go away thinking that he was not suffering as much as he was. The speaker states that his pain is the “worst” he has ever known by far. It is not just his grief that is harming him though, but the fact that he doesn’t know where it is coming from.
He says the “worst pain” is not knowing “why without” suffering from a broken heart or “disdain” his “heart has such pain!” The speaker is frustrated and upset by his own emotional state. This poem reads as a moment in which he has finally had enough and is ready to reach out to another. Perhaps in the hope of finding some answers.