! Missing Player !
To listen to the Archive's recordings, software called Adobe Flash Player (version 10) needs to be installed on your computer and you need to enable JavaScript in your browser settings.

Adobe Flash Player can be downloaded, free of charge, here.

We're sorry but, for copyright reasons, you cannot print poem texts from this site.

Share this page

Share this page Bookmark and Share
About the Poet Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was born into an aristocratic family and, along with her brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, had a significant impact on the artistic life of the 20s. She encountered the work of the French symbolists, Rimbaud in particular, early in her writing life and became a champion of the modernist movement, editing six editions of the controversial magazine Wheels. She remained a crusading force against philistinism and conservatism throughout her life and her legacy lies as much in her unstinting support of other artists such as the composer William Walton, as it does in her own poetry. She had a theatrical sense of image as captured in the famous photos and portraits of her iconic features' bony elegance. There is something of the same grand quality in her poems with their stylised diction and use of emblems which can sometimes lead to a deadening ornateness. However, when this symbolism is allied to subject matter of real import the effect can be very powerful, as in this recording of her poem 'Still Falls the Rain'. Written in response to the Blitz on London, Sitwell described this poem in a letter to Benjamin Britten as one of the proudest achievements of her life and on the evidence of this recording it's easy to see why: with its use of repetition, insistent rhyme and Christian imagery of suffering, the poem has a relentless quality like the bombardment and endurance which inspired it.

As with the MacNeice recording in the Archive, this comes from a 1946 disc that was part of a series masterminded by the author and literary impresario John Lehmann on behalf of 'The Writers Group of the Society for Cultural Relations between the Peoples of the British Commonwealth and the USSR'. Sitwell's magisterial tones and received pronunciation may sound dated to our ears, but they suit the solemnity of her poem and the historical circumstances of its composition.
Which books contain this poem?
  • Collected Poems of Edith Sitwell
Search for a poem or a poet:

My Archive

Create lists of your favourite poems and poets and share them with friends.

Browse all poets by name

View all poets

Browse all poems by title

View all poems

Glossary of poetic terms

View full glossary
Support The Poetry Archive The Poetry Archive depends on donations from public bodies and private individuals. Find out how you can contribute to the work of the Archive.