April 11, 2019

There Will Come Soft Rains

Sara Teasdale won the earliest Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1918, the year she wrote "There Will Come Soft Rains", a piece of writing that imagines the world without us. 

In the poem, Teasdale describes nature reclaiming a battlefield after war. She also writes about the extinction of humanity, far before the threats of nuclear winter, or weapons grade consumerism became a reality. 

Her poetry is known for its "simplicity and quiet intensity", and this poem is certainly all of that.

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,

And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire

Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one

Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree

If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,

Would scarcely know that we were gone.

— Sara Teasdale [1884 - 1933]

Our war on nature is one that we will most certainly lose. We have treated the planet, and all life on it, so harshly, that it would surprise me if any wild creatures would miss us if we manage to do ourselves in. 

Would they celebrate our demise? I wouldn't blame them if they did.

Mary Oliver is another Pulitzer Prize winning poet, and she says, "Maybe the world, without us, is the real poem."

It doesn't have to be that way. We used to be a harmonious part of nature, and if we ever learn to adopt a global philosophy of simplicity, we will be again.

There will come soft rains, with us, or without us. The choice is ours.


  1. There was a Ray Bradbury story based on that poem. Leonard Nimoy did a reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzhlU8rXgHc

    There was also a Soviet-era animated short based on the Bradbury story that I saw as a kid. It terrified me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LNHYz89sNc

    All very Cold War, but probably apt today.

    1. Thank you for the links. We will be checking them out. We are fans of both Bradbury and Nimoy. Not so big on Cold Wars, or Hot ones.

  2. Anonymous4/12/2019

    Many years ago after hiking to the summit of a mountain in Wyoming I remember looking out at the vast expanse of mountains and canyons with no sign of humans and thinking, this is what it must have looked like at the beginning of time, before we got here. And now after reading this poem I realize it could just as easily be at the end of our time, when we're gone. I wish we had taken our cue from Native Americans regarding living in harmony with our earth but simple living will help put us back on that right track. Nancy

    1. I used to love backpacking to remote wilderness locations in order to get away from human civilization. It was always disappointing to see and hear jets fly overhead during these trips. I realized then that the whole of the earth had been infected and escape was impossible.

      I do believe that it will be the remaining indigenous populations that will guide us back to living harmoniously with Mother Earth. If only we had listened to them in the first place.

  3. Anonymous4/12/2019

    Life after humans! I'm just sad that I will not be around to see it. Let the monuments to human hubris fall.

    1. Human hubris, indeed. It's killing us, and everything.

  4. Anonymous4/14/2019

    Very moving...


  5. Anonymous4/14/2019

    That program "Life After People" was a favorite of mine, mainly just the end when nature had reclaimed the land and it looked so lovely again. Thanks for posting the poem. - Mary

    1. We haven't seen that program, but will be sure to look it up. It is quite the concept. People don't take it seriously enough, but for the first time in human history we are at the point where we are capable of rendering ourselves extinct. Let us hope that more intelligent heads prevail.


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