Thomas B. Byers: On "Sun and Rain"

In "Sun and Rain," the flow of animals and the coming of rain figure the speaker's flood of emotion as he recalls the day his mother

... told me of seeing my father            alive for the last time and he waved her back f rom the door    as she was leaving took her hand       for a while and said nothing

The combination of the father's beckoning gesture (which requires the opening of his hand) with his silence makes the scene doubly poignant; the dying man at once reveals his dependence and love and, in a nonfulfillment of the moment, is unable to articulate them. Given the emphatic position of "nothing," there is a hint that this inability manifests a general failure of character, yet this hint supplements, rather than canceling, the pathos of the gesture and the situation.

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Title Thomas B. Byers: On "Sun and Rain" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Thomas B. Byers Criticism Target W. S. Merwin
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 30 May 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication What I Cannot Say: Self, Word, and World in Whitman, Stevens, and Merwin
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