Thomas Merton, A Festival of Rain, from Raids on the Unspeakable, New York: New
Directions, 1966, 9.
Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money.
By “they” I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not
appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold
is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market. The time
will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment it is still free, and I am in it. I
celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness.
The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the woods with an immense and
confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and it porch with insistent and controlled
rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by
rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.
I came up here from the monastery last night, sloshing through the corn files, said
Vespers, and put some oatmeal on the Coleman stove for supper… The night became very
dark. The rain surrounded the whole cabin with its enormous virginal myth, a whole world of
meaning, of secrecy, of silence, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling
nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the
gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped
the hillside! What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in a forest at night, cherished by this
wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world,
the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere
in the hollows!
Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As
long as it talks I am going to listen.
But I am also going to sleep, because here in the wilderness I have learned how to sleep
again. Here I am not alien. The trees I know, the night I know, the rain I know. I close my
eyes and instantly sink into the whole rainy world of which I am a part, and the world goes on
with me in it, for I am not alien to it.
Questions on Thomas Merton’s A Festival of Rain
Please read and annotate the text and answer the following questions:
Where does Merton’s text fall on the Continuum of Essay Types, figure 3.1 pp. 38-39?
What Genre is it?
Who is his audience?
What is his purpose?
How did the piece make you feel?
Identify at least one metaphor, simile, or other figurative language and explain.
What did you learn from A Festival of Rain?
Based on your opinion identify one positive feature and one negative feature in the piece
+/Also, please identify one positive feature and one negative feature of Rockwood’s and
Saknussemm’s texts and support your point with evidence.
Next, please complete For Writing and Discussion on page 41. Answer all the questions and be
prepared to share Tuesday.
Purchase answer to see full