The Rain It Raineth
This morning I went downstairs to find the room glowing with a strange light. It was the sort of unreal glow that snow generates. Snow? Days of rain, hailstones, high winds – but SNOW?
I snatched back the curtains to find – sunshine – and blue sky. Yes, the strange light was – sunshine after so many days of rain, after skies more like the one in the photo above.
I work in a room at the top of the house. It has big windows that offer a panorama of sky. Yesterday evening that sky had an end-of-the-world foreboding about it. The sort of sky Noah must have looked at and ordered his wood and nails. The sort of sky that makes rivers rise until land and water merge.
It’s rained for days. Rain that seems unending, rain that drums on the roof, streams down windows, creates puddles for my tears to drown in. When the sky grows black and it rains like this, the same song forces itself to my lips over and over again.
At the end of Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, Feste the Fool sings a song of haunting melancholy: ‘The rain it raineth every day’. Sometimes directors decide to change the melody, and I think not always to good effect. (For me this applies to this season’s RSC production of ‘Twelfth Night’, which I think fails on so many other counts also.) The tune I like – perhaps because it was the one I heard first – can be found here http://soundcloud.com/little-machine/the-rain-it-raineth-every-day
Although it’s the melody I like, this version hasn’t got the haunting quality that I love so much in the words, and which I find reflected in this one by counter tenor, Alfred Deller http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q910HEkDOmE&feature=fvwrel
I also love the painting by Norman Garstin of the promenade at Penzance –
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Norman_Garstin_-_It_Raineth_Every_Day_1889.jpg It hangs in the wonderful Penlee House Gallery in Penzance, and provides an evocative picture of the promenade on a wet day at the end of the 19th century. I love Penzance. George, a character in my novel The Piano Player’s Son, lives in Penzance, and when his sister, Grace, visits him at a time of great stress, she walks along the prom.
I seem to have moved a long way from waking up and seeing sunshine. Today’s blue sky is uplifting, and a relief after so much rain, but for dramatic power, I’d go for yesterday’s evening’s sky every time.
But with more rain forecast for tomorrow morning, the Avon and the Severn bursting their banks and 48 flood alerts, the last thing we need is more skies like last night’s!
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