1.3 In the Time of Silver Rain – Langston Hughes
In time of silver rain
The earth puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads
In time of silver rain
The butterflies lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth new leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,
In time of silver rain When spring,
Put forth: produce or give
Theme/ Central Idea:
Through the poem ‘In time of silver rain’, the poet Langston Hughes, tells us that the rain brings beauty and happiness all around.
About the poet:
Langston Hughes was an American writer and activist, who won many awards and honours for his work. He started a new style of writing poetry in which rhythm and spontaneous expression are important. In this poem, he describes how rain brings joy and life.
Langston Hughes, the poet beautifully describes the earth in time of silver rain. He says, when it rains, the earth produces new life again. Green grasses grow all over and flowers raise their heads. The wonder of life spreads all over the plain. During the silver rain, the butterflies lift their silken wings to catch a rainbow. Trees bear new leaves to sing in joy under the sky. Boys and Girls, passing by also join them and sing in the time of silver rain. In the time of silver rain the spring and life are both new.
The poet begins the poem with the title itself and describes the rain as silver rain. Why is the poet calling the rain as silver rain? Perhaps because he remembers the proverb, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Or perhaps when the rain drops shine they look silver in colour.
The poet says that when it starts raining, the earth has new life again. In India it rains after the harsh summer season, so when it rains, the earth is smiling and is full of life. There is new life in the form of green grass growing. The poet has personified the flowers by saying that they lift their heads. It means that new flowers bloom everywhere. He further states that it is a wonderful and beautiful sight as far as our eyes can see as if the rain has spun a magical wand on the earth and has spread wonder all around.
The poet repeats the words, ‘of life, of life, of life” emphasizing that the earth is full of life i.e. everything and everyone is happy and smiling.
The poet begins this stanza too with the title and continues saying that when it rains the butterflies fly about with their silken i.e. beautiful and shining wings, to catch a rainbow crying. Why has the poet described the rainbow has crying? A rainbow symbolizes happiness, so the poet means that the rainbow is shedding tears of happiness while the butterflies flatter about.
He further states that the trees have new leaves. Here again the poet has personified the leaves to be singing joyfully under the beautiful sky.
The poet wants to say that it is not only the earth, the trees, the leaves, the flowers that is nature that is happy, smiling and full of life but also little boys and girls passing down the road that are singing with joy and happiness, i.e. nature and mankind is happy and full of life.
He reminds again that in time of silver rain, the spring season has come and with it everything is new including life itself. We could also interpret that the spring will bring new opportunities and with it a new life. So forget about your past and enjoy the rain today!
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1. Find the pairs of rhyming words used at the end of the lines in the poem.
rain – again
again – plain
heads – spreads
wings – sing
cry – sky
too – new
2. Read the poem aloud using proper intonation.
3. If you were to draw a landscape on the basis of this poem, what elements will you show in it? What colours will you use?
Ans. If I were to draw the landscape on the basis of this poem, I will draw the rain, the rainbow in the sky with the dark clouds hovering by. I will also draw large expanse of the plains full of green grass and huge trees covered with fresh leaves. I will include flowers blooming and beautiful butterflies flying about, happy children running and singing and enjoying the rain.
4. Talk about your favourite season. (A one minute activity)
I love the winter season. Winter in India comes in the middle of the academic year and schools close down for their mid-term break. The air is full of festivities and celebrations as Diwali has just ended and Christmas and New Year are round the corner. It is also the holiday season all over the world where friends and relatives from overseas come visiting or better still it gives us a chance to visit them. We can travel to cold regions like Shimla and Kulu Manali and enjoy the snow and indulge in some winter sports. Since there are no schools we can get cozy under our blankets and sleep as long as we want.
5. The special arrangement of short lines makes you think about every detail. If you write the sentences in the usual manner, it does not have the same effect.
For example, the first stanza would be something like ‘The earth puts forth new life again; green grasses grow and flowers lift their heads and the wonder of life spreads all over the plain in time of silver rain.’
Now try the following: Write one or two sentences about something beautiful, using your own experience or imagination. Then rearrange the words in the sentences in a poetic form. You may write about a beautiful day, a beautiful night, a stream, a crop standing in a field, a graceful bird or animal, etc.
Ans. WHY I LOVE THE WINTER SEASON?
I love the winter season,
And here’s the reason,
It’s the middle of the academic year,
The air is full of festivities and cheer!
The schools give us a mid-term break,
To enjoy mithai and cake,
Diwali has just passed by, Your Honour!
But Christmas and New Year are round the corner!
All over the world, it’s the holiday season,
For friends and family to meet without reason,
It gives us a chance to travel,
To faraway lands that we can unravel!
Since there is no school,
And the air all around is cool,
We ignore the alarm clocks beep,
While deep inside our blankets we cozily sleep!
6. Fill in the following blanks with reference to the poem.
‘In time of rain when spring and life are new, the butterflies lift silken wings to catch a rainbow cry and trees put forth new leaves to sing in joy beneath the sky as passing boys and girls too go singing down the roadway’.
7. Think and answer:
(a) Is the poet talking about heavy rains in the rainy season or rain that has come after a long time?
Ans. The poet is talking about rain that has come after a long time.
(b) Are the boys and girls happy that it is raining?
Ans. Yes, the boys and girls are happy that it is raining.
8. Find out the following with the help of your teacher and the internet.
• Seasonal Rains (monsoon) in India and other countries.
• Rain in countries like UK which experience spring-summer-autumn-winter.
9. Language Study:
Alliteration: When the same sound occurs at the beginning of two or more words in the same line, it is called alliteration.
Example: Nayna needs new notebooks.
Find an example of alliteration from the poem.
Ans. Green grasses grow.
Collect other examples of alliteration.
(i) She sells sea shells on the sea shore.
(ii) Lucky Lucy likes lollipops.
(iii) Why does Willy wale?
(iv) Chameleons change colours.
(v) Fat Fenny and fast Fran are friends.
10. Poetic device:
a) Rhyming Scheme: The poem does not follow any particular rhyme scheme.
b) Figures of speech:
(i) The earth puts forth new life again.
‘put forth’ i.e. putting forward is a human quality which is given to the earth.
(ii) And the flowers lift their head.
The flowers are given human quality of being able to lift their head.
(iii) To catch a rainbow cry.
The rainbow is given a human quality of crying.
(iv) New leaves to sing.
Leaves have human quality of singing.
Q1. Why has the poet described the rain as silver rain?
Ans. The poet has described the rain as silver rain, perhaps because he remembers the proverb, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Or perhaps when the rain drops shine they look silver in colour.
Q2. In what way does the earth bring new life?
Ans. The earth brings new life in the form of green grass growing and flowers blooming everywhere.
Q3. How does the landscape change? Or. Describe the landscape.
Ans. As soon as it rains, there is green grass growing, flowers blooming and the plains look wonderful and beautiful.
Q4. In what way does ‘wonder spread’?
Ans. When it rains the grasses grow and flowers bloom and everything looks wonderful.
Q5. Why has the poet repeated the words, ‘of life’?
Ans. The poet repeats the words, ‘of life, of life, of life” emphasizing that the earth is full of life i.e. everything and everyone is happy and smiling.
Q6. Identify the figures of speech.
(a) Green grasses grow.
Ans. Alliteration: The sound of the letter ‘g’ is repeated in the
(b) And flowers lift their heads.
Ans. Personification: The flowers are given human quality of lifting
Q7. Some people like the rainy season some don’t. What about you? Give reason.
(students should attempt it on their own)
Q1. How has the poet described nature?
Ans. As soon as it rains, there is a rainbow and butterflies with their silken wings fly around it. The trees have grown new leaves and are swaying with happiness under the sky.
Q2. What do the butterflies do?
Ans. The butterflies with their silken wings fly about the rainbow.
Q3. Why does the poet say that the rainbow is crying?
Ans. A rainbow symbolizes happiness, so the poet means that the rainbow is shedding tears of happiness while the butterflies flatter about.
Q4. Where do new leaves sing?
Ans. The new leaves sing in the trees that are growing under the open sky.
Q5. Where are the boys and girls and what do they do?
Ans. The boys and girls are singing happily as they go down the road.
Q6. Which season comes after the rain and what does it bring?
The spring season comes after the rainy season and it brings new life.
Q7. Identify the figures of speech.
(a) To catch a rainbow cry.
Ans. Personification: The rainbow is given a human quality of crying.
(b) New leaves to sing.
Ans. Personification: Leaves are given human quality of singing.
Q8. Write down all the words associated with rain.
Ans. Water, clouds, thunder, lightening, floods, hail, storm, wind, etc.
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