Let me begin with the bloggers lament: No, scrap that. Here I am. Now. I’ve been waiting for Don Paterson’s book to arrive. Rain. I talked about one of his poems from this collection a few weeks ago here but I cannot resist posting the complete version of the title poem. It needs, I believe, to be read aloud to hear the full cadence, the internal rhyme.

Now, a few hours later, and much sweat, and no success, I post this poem. It’s supposed to have spaces every fourth line but WordPress takes them out regardless of what I do in CSS or HTML or anywhere else. If you know how to fix this please, please tell me.


I love all films that start with rain:

rain, braiding a windowpane

or darkening a hung-out dress

or streaming down her upturned face;

one big thundering downpour

right through the empty script and score

before the act, before the blame,

before the lens pulls through the frame

to where the woman sits alone

beside a silent telephone

or the dress lies ruined on the grass

or the girl walks off the overpass,

and all things flow out from that source

along their fatal watercourse.

However bad or overlong

such a film can do no wrong,

so when his native twang shows through

or when the boom slips into view

or when her speech starts to betray

its adaptation from the play,

I think to when we opened cold

on a starlit gutter, running gold

with the neon of a drugstore sign

and I’d read into its blazing line:

forget the ink, the milk, the blood –

all was washed clean with the flood

we rose up from the falling waters

the fallen rain’s own sons and daughters

and none of this, none of this matters.

Don Paterson, Rain. Farrar Straus Geroux, 2009

Can I say: treat yourself. Section V from the poem Phantom is as close and as beautiful a description of our fate as anything I’ve ever read.

Explore posts in the same categories: poems

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