It's raining on and off here, making this cheerful little poem somewhat appropriate...
(Poem #117) The Rain and the Wind
The rain and the wind, the wind and the rain -- They are with us like a disease: They worry the heart, they work the brain, As they shoulder and clutch at the shrieking pane, And savage the helpless trees. What does it profit a man to know These tattered and tumbling skies A million stately stars will show, And the ruining grace of the after-glow And the rush of the wild sunrise? Ever the rain -- the rain and the wind! Come, hunch with me over the fire, Dream of the dreams that leered and grinned, Ere the blood of the Year got chilled and thinned, And the death came on desire!
Henley's a somewhat recent discovery of mine, and while I don't always like his verse, this is one of his better poems. He balances his themes nicely - the savagery of the wind and rain, and the inadequacy of hopes and dreams, the inability of past or future to alleviate a storm-ridden today. I also love the rhythms of this poem, the mixture of long and short lines and the predominantly triple metre (three syllables in a foot) giving it a tumbling, sweeping effect that blends well with the imagery. m. Biography: b. Aug. 23, 1849, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Eng. d. July 11, 1903, Woking, near London British poet, critic, and editor who in his journals introduced the early work of many of the great English writers of the 1890s. As a child Henley contracted a tubercular disease that later necessitated the amputation of one foot. His other leg was saved only through the skill and radical new methods of the surgeon Joseph Lister, whom he sought out in Edinburgh. Forced to stay in an infirmary in Edinburgh for 20 months (1873-75), he began writing free-verse impressionistic poems about hospital life that established his poetic reputation. These were included in A Book of Verses (1888). Dating from the same period is his most popular poem, "Invictus" (1875), which concludes with the lines "I am the master of my fate; / I am the captain of my soul." The rest of his best-known work is contained in London Voluntaries (1893) and In Hospital (1903). Henley's long, close friendship with Robert Louis Stevenson began in 1874 when he was still a patient, and Stevenson based part of the character of Long John Silver in Treasure Island on his crippled, hearty friend. (See Stevenson, Robert Louis Balfour.) Restored to active life, Henley earned his living as an editor, the most brilliant of his journals being the Scots Observer of Edinburgh, of which he became editor in 1889. The journal was transferred to London in 1891 and became the National Observer. Though conservative in its political outlook, it was liberal in its literary taste and published the early work of Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, James Barrie, and Rudyard Kipling. As an editor and critic, Henley was remembered by young writers as a benevolent bully, generous in his promotion and encouragement of unknown talents and fierce in his attacks on unmerited reputations. Henley also edited, with T.F. Henderson, the centenary edition (1896-97) of the poems of Robert Burns, which is still valuable. His biographical preface, in its reaction against the tendency of earlier biographers to idealize Burns, exaggerates the wild side of Burns's character. His later years were saddened by his estrangement from Stevenson (from 1888) and by the death of his daughter, an only child born after 10 years of marriage. He was severely criticized for a "debunking" article on Stevenson written after Stevenson's death. -- EB