War’s Come Soft Rains” by Sara Teasdale

War’s effects: Human vs. NatureWar is the seemingly giant conflict of human against human. Its main objective is victory through destruction. This destruction certainly has multiple negative effects. Despite understanding that outcomes happen, literary texts differ on what and how certain elements are effected. Pax by Sara Pennypacker is a coming of age fiction novel that describes the experience of a boy named Peter and his fox, Pax, as they try to reunite with each other during wartime. “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Sara Teasdale is a poem that describes nature after human extinction as a result of war. Both the novel, Pax by Sara Pennypacker and the poem, “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Sara Teasdale develop the them of the outcomes and consequences of war through the use of vivid language, but do so in different ways. The novel, Pax emphasizes that war negatively affects humans and animals alike. During the novel, Peter meets Vola, a war veteran who isolates herself in the countryside. The two develop a strong friendship during the weeks of Peter’s recovery. Vola constantly mentions what war has done to her and nature. She tells Peter, “People should tell the truth about what war costs.”(Pennypacker 130) This implies the book’s message about the effects of war on everyone and how horrific they can be. It can be inferred that people are not honest about the effects of war because it is too painful to expose the truth. In order to further reinforce this point, the author uses intense imagery and negative tone to paint a picture of the affected nature, destroyed. As Peter and Pax ¬†closer and closer, the author describes the once lively river as, “choking with death. Fire and smoke. Blood in a river, the river running red with it, the earth drowning in blood. Chaos,” (Pennypacker 136). This intense imagery of disorder is a far cry from the serene water and abundant wildlife that exists around most rivers. This imagery allows the reader to visualize the intensity of the destruction of nature during war. Hence, the author uses tone and imagery to support her point that nature does change from before to during war. On the other hand, the poem, “There Will Come Soft Rains” presents the concept that war only affects humans, and not nature. During the timespan of the poem, a war has passed, and all humans are gone. Using these events and figurative language, particularly personification, the poet expresses nature’s indifference to human extinction, and the events that caused it. As repeated verbatim from the poem, “No one would mind, neither bird nor tree If mankind perished utterly” (Teasdale 9-10) This personification illustrates that nature does not care about humanity and their whereabouts in its world. This shown indifference illustrates the point the poem is trying to make. Moreover, the author uses tone and imagery to paint a picture in the reader’s mind and further prove that nature is not affected by war. However, unlike the novel, the author uses positive tone and describes serene scenes, instead of the grim descriptions in the novel. As an example, “There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground, and swallows circling with their shimmering sound.” (Teasdale 1-2) These first few lines of peace and quiet give the reader a sense that there is nothing wrong, and nature is just being itself. When it is realized that a war went on, the reader realizes that nothing happened to nature despite the war. Thus, the poet uses figurative language and imagery in order to support his point of nature’s indifference to war. Ultimately, both texts lead readers to understand the collateral damage that war can cause on different elements. The novel, Pax by Sara Pennypacker leads readers to understand that the war causes huge amounts of damage and destruction to both humans and nature. On the contrary, the poem, “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Sara Teasdale leads readers to see that nature does not suffer much damage throughout war, and only humans are affected. The two texts are equally similar and different, because they share one similarity of the effects on humans, but also share a difference on what happens to nature. War’s objective is simple, but there is much more to it than victory and loss. Literary texts may give different descriptions of post-war nature, but there is only one way to see what will actually happen.