The Poet and the Raindrop [poem by Agnes Neale]

[Editor: This poem by Agnes Neale was published in Shadows and Sunbeams (1890).]

The Poet and the Raindrop.

On a dull, sombre day
A single raindrop lay,
Quite hidden from the world,
Close in a green leaf curled.

Silently, one by one,
Its fellows all had gone.
Poor drop! thus left alone,
What could it do but moan?

“What good am I,” it said,
“Hid in this dark green bed?
Why did I leave my cloud,
Only to find a shroud?

“What good, what good am I?
True, I can see the sky —
Dear sky! that never more
I shall be wafted o’er.

“Dear sky, that held me so;
How gladly would I go
Back to your garnered mist
That the day-king has kissed.

“Dear mists, that in sweet shame
Blushed to a rosy flame,
And spread your wings of light
To gladden human sight.

“Ah! that indeed was life —
That elemental strife —
When every wind-tossed cloud
Echoed the thunders loud.

“But now, what can I do?”
Just then the sun glanced through,
Just then a tiny breeze
Breathed through the quiet trees.

Sun-kissed, the drop of rain
Smiled into life again;
A rainbow, small but fine,
In its clear globe did shine;

And, shaken by the breeze,
It left the green old trees
And dropped, a blessing mute,
Straight to a dead flower root.

The root stirred in its bed,
“Sweet visitant,” it said,
“Just that I want you give;
Through you, indeed, I live.”

Up to the golden day
It pushed its silent way,
And stood in beauty there
A blossom wondrous fair.
And so, not all in vain,
Fell that one drop of rain.

* * * *

On a fair summer day
A poet musing lay.
Flooded with golden light,
The poet dwelt in night.

“Why do I live,” he said;
Ah! sure, if I were dead
Scarce one would drop a tear
Above my silent bier.

“No heart would yearn for me,
No life would darkened be,
No breast would swell with pain
Though I came not again.

“Could I but move the world,
Could some dart I had hurl’d
Pierce through man’s selfishness
Make sin’s black tide flow less;

“Could I some lost soul save,
Give freedom to some slave;
Could I but beat the drum
And bid the nation come
To see a world, through me,
Made beautiful and free!

“That were to live indeed,
Could I but do some deed —
Some deed that would resound
The wide creation round!”

Poor poet! All in vain,
Just like the drop of rain;
No great thing came to do,
And yet the sun shone through.

A single song he wrote,
A single heart it smote.
Ah! who shall ever say
What good was done that day?

From bloom and heart was shed
Love’s perfume perfected;
And only God can say
What good was done that day.

Agnes Neale, Shadows and Sunbeams, Adelaide: Burden & Bonython, 1890, pages 9-12

Editor’s notes:
bier = a stand upon which a coffin is placed prior to burial

o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)

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