The Sciences

The Rain Stick

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollNov 29, 2007 4:01 AM


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By Seamus Heaney.

Up-end the rain stick and what happens next Is a music that you never would have known To listen for. In a cactus stalk Downpour, sluice-rash, spillage and backwash Come flowing through. You stand there like a pipe Being played by water, you shake it again lightly And diminuendo runs through all its scales Like a gutter stopping trickling. And now here comes a sprinkle of drops out of the freshened leaves, Then subtle little wets off grass and daisies; Then glitter-drizzle, almost-breaths of air. Up-end the stick again. What happens next Is undiminished for having happened once, Twice, ten, a thousand time before. Who care if all the music that transpires Is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus? You are like a rich man entering heaven Through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.

For those wishing a more literal interpretation, here is what YouTube can teach you about the rain stick.

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