Sometimes When it Rains

Sometimes When it Rains

By Gcina Mhlophe

Sometimes when it rains
I smile to myslef
And think of times when as a child
I’d sit by myself
And wonder why people need clothes

Sometimes when it rains
I think of times
when I’d run into the rain
Shouting ‘Nkce – nkce mlanjana
When will I grow?
I’ll grow up tomorrow!’

Sometimes when it rains
I think of times
When I watched goats
running so fast from the rain
While sheep seemed to enjoy it

Sometimes when it rains
I think of times
When we had to undress
Carry the small bundles of uniforms and
books
On our heads
And cross the river after school.

Sometimes when it rains
I remember times
When it would rain hard for hours
And fill our drum
so we didn’t have to fetch water
From the river for a day or two

Sometimes when it rains
Rains for many hours without break
I think of people
who have nowhere to go
No home of their own

And no food to eat
Only rain water to drink

Sometimes when it rains
Rains for days without break
I think of mothers
Who give birth in squatter camps
Under plastic shelters
At the mercy of cold angry winds

Sometimes when it rains
I think of ‘illegal’ job seekers
in big cities
Dodging police vans in the rain
Hoping for darkness to come
So they can find some wet corner to hide
in

Sometimes when it rains
Rains so hard hail joins in
I think of life prisoners
in all the jails of the world
and wonder if they still love
To see the rainbow at the end of the rain

 Summary of Sometimes When it Rains

  • Popularity of “Sometimes When it Rains”: The poem “Sometimes When It Rains” by Nokugcina Elsie Mhlophe also popularly known as Gcina Mhlophe, a South African activist, poet, playwright, and writer, is a very good poem about life in camps during the rainy season and the feelings a child demonstrates to the rain in the apartheid camps. The beauty of the poem lies in its refrain of “Sometimes when it rains” that the poet has repeated in almost all the stanzas in the beginning.
  • “Sometimes When it Rains” As a Representative of Apartheid Life in Camps: Although it is hard to detect the loyalty of the poet in the opening lines, it becomes clear when she states of “When will I grow up?” that she longs to become an adult. However, the phenomenon of rain, a natural event, becomes specific for the children and the people on account of their circumstances. Whereas the first stanza presents the poet thinking of herself, the second shows her thinking about her future and the third goes on to see how she sees the animals. She moves to her own activities how they used to go to schools and cross the river in the rain and then fill their drums as it used to become easy for them to have a lot of drinking water. Simultaneously, she says that it used to cause people a lot of problems in collecting food, living in shanties, giving birth to children, and even leading a life in the camps like the prisoners.
  • Major Themes in “Sometimes When it Rains”: Life in camps, natural bounty, and childhood memories are three major themes of this poem. Although it is unclear where the camps are located, the life of the poet shows that she is talking about the apartheid life in South African cities. It also shows that although the rainy seasons used to cause them discomfort in camps, she and other children used to enjoy it. It also provided them much need drinking water. In the midst of this, the childhood memories of discomfort, enjoyment, and school visits in the rain provide a vast panorama to concentrate on her poetic talent and use words to express her childhood thoughts and memories.

 Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Sometimes When it Rains”

literary devices permit writers to choose their words to suit their style. Gcina Mhlophe, too, has used some literary devices in the poem “Sometimes When it Rains” whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “Sometimes when it rains”, the sound of /i/ in “I think of times” and the sound of /o/ in “And cross the river after school.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/, /n/ and /m/ in “Carry the small bundles of uniforms and / books” and the sound of /s/ and /r/ in “Rains for days without break.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

I think of life prisoners
in all the jails of the world
and wonder if they still love
To see the rainbow at the end of the rain.

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Gcina Mhlophe has used imagery in this poem such as “And wonder why people need clothes”, “Running so fast from rain” and “We we had to undress.”
  2. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The poet has used a personification such as “At the mercy of the cold angry winds” where winds have been personified.
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows the use of symbols such as rain, river, water, plastic shelters and winds to show the life in apartheid camps.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Sometimes When it Rains”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction and Tone: The poem shows beautiful descriptive diction and a serious tone with a touch of sorrow.
  2. Free Verse: The poem does not follow any specific rhyme scheme. Therefore, it is a free verse poem.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. The poem has nine stanzas with each having a different number of verses.
  4. Refrain: The phrase “Sometimes when it rains” has become a refrain as it occurs in the beginning of every stanza, specifying the major theme of the poem.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “Sometimes When it Rains” are useful to quote when talking about childhood and childhood feelings about rain and other natural events.

Sometimes when it rains
I smile to myself
And think of times when as a child
I’d sit by myself
And wonder why people need clothes.

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