"The Rainy Day" Lesson American Literature k12 Wiva

Lesson Introduction: “The Rainy Day”
In this lesson, you will read a poem by the American nineteenth-century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. You will then explore the language, imagery, and theme of the poem, as well as the way Longfellow employs rhyme scheme and meter in his work.

Before You Read: “The Rainy Day”
You may have heard lines of poetry from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow before. Do the following lines sound familiar?

By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.

These are the first lines of Longfellow’s famous poem “The Song of Hiawatha,” written in 1855. In this activity, you will learn more about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow before reading one of his poems.

Use the Student Guide to take notes and answer questions as you work through the lesson.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, in 1807. As a young boy, Longfellow was an avid reader. Eventually he became a university professor and a published poet. Longfellow published his first poem in 1831.

Many of Longfellow’s poems reflect the history and ideas of the young United States. He wrote about the natural landscapes of America and the Native Americans who first dwelled there, as in “The Song of Hiawatha.”

As the country moved toward Civil War, Longfellow wrote to remind Americans of where they had come from and what their ideals were. Perhaps his most famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” written in 1860, calls on the people to remember the Revolutionary War and what American freedom meant:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…

For, borne on the nightwind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

As you will see, Longfellow wrote with clear rhythm Opens in modal popup window and rhyme, making his poems easy to remember. His poetry is generally easy to understand, and his topics appeal to diverse interests. In the Longfellow poem you will read, watch for the simple themes Opens in modal popup window and clear rhyme and rhythm.

Read: “The Rainy Day”
Read “The Rainy Day” on page 60 of Explorations: An Anthology of American Literature, Volume C.

Check Your Reading: The Rainy Day

See how well you understood Longfellow’s poem “The Rainy Day” by answering some questions. Refer to your notes and the text if necessary.

Check Your Reading.

The second stanza of “The Rainy Day” is a metaphor. The author uses the metaphor to __________.
a.) show that most days are rainy
b.) compare life to a dreary day
c.) describe the decay of autumn
d.) represent a specific geographical area
b.) compare life to a dreary day

Based on the ideas contained in “The Rainy Day,” which of the following statements would the speaker most likely agree with?
a.) when people grow old, most of their days are sad.
b.) every person will die in the same way
c.) all people face difficulties at some time in their life
d.) taking care of physical property such as walls is important
c.) all people face difficulties at some time in their life

What might be an example of the wind being “never weary” as it is used in stanza 2?
a.) the weather is constantly blowing down the branches.
b.) the speaker does not get tired anymore.
c.) the storms provide much needed water for plants to grow.
d.) troubles constantly batter a person.
d.) troubles constantly batter a person.

Which word describes the new mood introduced in stanza 3?
a.) despair
b.) hope
c.) exhaustion
d.) sadness
b.) hope

To whom is the speaker primarily speaking in “The Rainy Day”?
a.) himself
b.) his friends
c.) the weather
d.) older people
a.) himself

Poetry: “The Rainy Day” Analysis
Now that you have read and reviewed the content of “The Rainy Day,”analyze it more fully. In this activity, you will explore metaphor and meaning in Longfellow’s poem.

Nature and Life
You probably have had your plans ruined by bad weather. The poet may reflect your own experiences in “The Rainy Day.”

The natural world is the starting point for the poem “The Rainy Day.” Poets have a long-standing tradition of comparing what goes on in nature with what goes on in life, and they often use imagery in making the comparison.

Why might poets often use natural imagery in explaining the inner human life?

Central Metaphor
“The Rainy Day” is centered on a metaphor comparing life to a rainy day. The author uses each stanza to build the metaphor.

A Ray of Hope
Although the second stanza is somewhat bleak, the speaker’s thoughts change in the final stanza. The speaker still compares life to a rainy day, but there is some hope. The poet introduces a new image to show the shift in the speaker’s mood Opens in modal popup window.

Poetry: Rhyme Scheme and Meter
When you were reading and listening to “The Rainy Day,” did you hear the beat in the poem? In this activity, you will focus on the rhyme and meter of “The Rainy Day.”

A Poet’s Tools
A poet uses many tools to convey the theme of the poem. For example, a poet uses imagery and metaphor, as Longfellow does in “The Rainy Day.”

Rhyme scheme and meter are two more of the poet’s tools. They help to create the mood of a poem.

Read aloud the first stanza of the poem. As you read, listen for the words that rhyme.

Meter is the arrangement of words in poetry based on rhythm, accents, and the number of syllables in a line. Older poetry was written in iambs; an iamb is a two-syllable foot of poetry with the stress falling on the second syllable. Words such as alas and good-bye can be considered iambs.

To see how this works in “The Rainy Day,” look at the following line:

The day is cold, and dark, and drear-y;

Read the line aloud, using the italicized words to signal the stressed syllables.