The Rainy Day Poem by H.W Longfellow: How to Handle Pain

The Rainy Day by H.W Longfellow cover image

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there’s not a single poem by H.W Longfellow that won’t make you introspect and think deeply about the subjects it invokes inside. And out of all the great poems written by the poet whose beard can rival that of Darwin’s, The Rainy Day is a poem not known by many. And that’s unfortunate because this poem, despite being very short and simple, can soothe the ailing heart and fretting mind. 

The Rainy Day is a poem that compares a rainy day with the gloom and melancholy a sad heart feels. Drawing similarities between the two, the poet provides a perspective about the positive look on life, instilling a philosophy much needed to face challenges and rise above. I think anyone who is going through tough times must read this poem. Take a look at it:

The Rainy Day 

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.

Analysis of The Rainy Day and Why it’s so powerful 

The great thing about Longfellow’s poems is that you don’t need an in-depth analysis of his works to understand the poem. With simple words, beautiful rhyming, and consistent rhythm, his poems are a delight to read. This also applies to the Rainy Day with most of its meaning easily extractable with just one read. 

But the other great thing about Longfellow’s poems the more you analyze it, the more the poem grows in your heart. Each line shows a new connection and a new meaning. This is what we aim to do. Let’s analyze The Rainy Day poem and see what the poet is trying to convey. 

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.

The first stanza of five lines is also called a quintain. This is the physical description of the place or scene that the poet is seeing. The day is a cloudy one, dark and dull with rain and wind rattling the roofs and window panes. You can imagine a nearly violent downpour on a dark day. 

To add more to this gloomy image, the vine still clings on to the decaying and molding wall. This shows that even the place around the poet is decrepit. While the vine clings, each gust of tis still dark, still dreary, and still very melancholic.

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.

The second stanza brings a new aspect of the poem, but in a very similar package. Notice how the rhythm and meter remain the same as the previous one. The way Longfellow is describing his life is exactly how he described this dreary day. This is the metaphorical part of the poem and it works so well because the poet gave the readers something solid, something familiar for comparison.

The poet’s life is cold, dark, and dreary. This is obviously stating that he has been living a sad, drab, and tedious life. But it is the second line of this stanza where the metaphorical magic of Longfellow’s writing kicks in. 

It rains, and the wind is never weary. It is about the thoughts from the past, the pain of today, and the forebodings of the future. The rain and wind are metaphors for those feelings. His thoughts still clinging on to the mouldering past shows the old age he is in and how he is losing the good memories. 

Moldering past shows all the good memories he had and now he is losing all those, trying to hold on to it amidst this storm. But since the past itself is falling apart, his thoughts won’t last too long. And in this strong gust of wind, his hopes of youth are falling like the dry, dead leaves. He is losing everything dear to him. 

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.

The third stanza is where the entire tone and meaning of the poem gets a change, completely turning the poem from a sad old man talking about his misfortune and trepidations to something invigorating, something that gives strength and hopes to the readers, to the people who might be going through something similar. 

The poet consoles the heart and tells it to stop fretting, stop worrying. There is still hope, just hid from the sight due to the clouds. It isn’t gone yet. What you are feeling is something everyone will feel or experience. You are not the only unfortunate one.

Moments like these are everyone’s share, these rains are the visitors of everyone’s life at some point. So why fret and cry? If it is fate for everyone, only sooner for some, later for others? Is it not like life or death? Heat or cold, hunger or thirst? The poet says that some days of your life must be dark and dreary, but that does not mean it is the end of everything. Hope is still there, behind the dark clouds. All you must do is keep holding on.

The Rainy Day poem by H.W Longfellow
The Rainy Day by H.W Longfellow

Meaning and summary of the poem

The meaning and summary of this poem will be the same. But before we start, let’s get some context first. H.W Longfellow suffered from a tragic accident when his wife died from an accidental fire. This is also the reason why Longfellow started wearing a beard because he had suffered burns on his face. 

This poem is just a channeling of the pain he was suffering. Everyone experiences pain and that is just a part of life. The comparison of rain and pain in life is a brilliant one because it shows the momentary nature of both. Both of them are bound to happen for some time. It also shows that both rain and pain and not the replacement of anything, rather a temporary veil over the sun. 

This means that both happiness and the bright sun are still present when dark times approach, both literally and metaphorically. Just let them have their slice of time and then they’ll pass. But there’s another part of the meaning of this poem that is often missed. It is conveyed in the way the poem is written.

The first two stanzas are about thinking about the past, looking at what has happened and what’s happening. It is about seeing the dark clouds, the violent rain, and the thoughts of good old days clinging on. And that is to be done. Everyone who gets into situations like these should look and feel the rain. That is natural. But at the end of every thought invoked by the rain, one must get back to the message from the last stanza.

Yes, things have gone wrong and taken a turn for the worse, but that does not mean the end of everything. The hope is still there and it will be back. Just hold on. 

The Rainy Day metaphor, themes, and moral lessons

The entire poem is a metaphor, even showing what a metaphor means. The first stanza describes a physical event; a rainy day and the second stanza shows the same event happening inside, metaphorically. The first and second stanza are identical, one is about something physical, other is metaphysical. 

The examples of metaphors in the poem are; the wind is never weary, mouldering past, days are dark and dreary (in the second stanza). Behind the clouds is the sun still shining, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary.

There are multiple themes in the poem, the most prominent one being hope, perseverance, strength, and the will to go on. The minor themes of the poem are nostalgia, memory, melancholy, loss, grief, etc. 

The Rainy Day has a rhyming scheme of AABBA.

Coming to the moral lesson of the poem, it’s this; There will always be days in your life when things do go right or when you’re compelled to look back and miss the old days. You might remember how happy your life used to be, drifting in nostalgia, sighing at the challenges life has presented. But don’t be discouraged by it. 

Happiness and hope can still be found, the pain is temporary and the good days will come back. You are not the only one suffering from days like these. Everyone at some point in their lives will feel the same. All you need to do is keep going on. This concludes the article. But why stop the reading here? Here are some more poems by H.W Longfellow for you to read. Take a look:

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