Monday, December 12, 2005

I’ve always loved walking in the rain; it seems to cleanse the air and give the city a kind of baptism. When it rains really hard I like to stand under a ledge and close my eyes and just listen. Raindrops hit the ground and roofs with a distinct pitter patter, tires squeak and horns honk. People rush by, and eventually I can even hear my own breath. It reminds me of that Verlaine Poem:
Il pleure dans mon coeur
Comme il pleut sur la ville ;
Quelle est cette langueur
Qui pénètre mon coeur ?

Ô bruit doux de la pluie
Par terre et sur les toits !
Pour un coeur qui s'ennuie,
Ô le chant de la pluie !

It cries on my heart
Like it rains on the city;
What is this languor
That penetrates my heart?

O soft sound of the rain
On the ground and on the roofs!
For a bored heart,
O the song of the rain!

I recited this to myself as I sat beneath an overhanging roof, waiting for the rain to let up a bit. My eyes closed, the city seemed more alive than ever. Smells fell down with the rain: grass and trees and hot dogs from a vender not far away mixed into one entity in the rain. From the Metro grate came the musty smell of stagnant air being washed clean by the rain.
Soon it began to let up and I walked down the street and into the Metro. Somehow I feel that standing under a small ledge in the rain in the middle of Metro Center today was more wandering than I’ve done the whole time I’ve been in Washington. I was at once conscious of the city around me as a whole, and I was a part of it. My ongoing lament somehow lifted by the rain, I again said to myself, “pour un Coeur que s’ennuie, / O le chant de la pluie!”


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