Class 9- “Rain on the Roof” Full Analysis

rain on the roof

Extract-Based Questions, Summary and Line-by-Line Explanation of Class 9 poem “Rain on the Roof” by Coates Kinney

rain on the roof

Coates Kinney

Coates Kinney (1826–1904) was an American poet and lawyer. Born in Pennsylvania, he gained recognition for his notable work, “Keeuka: An American Legend.” His poetry, characterised by romantic themes and social commentary, reflects the spirit of the mid-19th century. Kinney’s legacy endures as a figure who navigated both the legal and literary realms, impacting American letters and the fight against social injustice.

‘Rain on the Roof’ was first published in the “Keeuka And Other Poems” collection in 1855. The original work has five stanzas, while the CBSE “Beehive” has a three-stanza version. 

Also Read: Class 9-“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by W.B. Yeats, Class 9- “A Legend of the Northland” by Phoebe Cary


  • Hover: Remain in one place in the air.
  • Melancholy: A feeling of deep sadness or sorrow.
  • Patter: A repeated sound, such as the sound of raindrops falling.
  • Cottage-chamber: A small room in a cottage.
  • Woof: An archaic term meaning the threads that run crosswise in a woven fabric; used metaphorically here.
  • Agone: An archaic term meaning ago or in the past.
  • Refrain: A repeated part of a poem, especially at the end of each stanza; in this context, it also refers to the recurring sound of rain.
  • Shingles: Overlapping tiles (often used in roofing).
  • Tinkle: A light, tinkling sound like a small bell.
  • List: to listen or pay attention.

Summary “Rain on the Roof:

‘Rain on the Roof’ by Coates Kinney is a three-stanza poem celebrating the comforting and nostalgic embrace of rain. The poet describes the blissful experience of lying in a cottage chamber bed, listening to the gentle patter of raindrops on the roof. The sound triggers a cascade of dreamy fancies and recollections, echoing like a thousand memories in the heart. The poet fondly remembers their mother in the final stanza, connecting the rain’s soothing refrain to maternal care. The poem beautifully captures the emotional resonance of rain, evoking a sense of warmth, nostalgia, and the profound impact of the natural world on personal memories and emotions.

Explanation “Rain on the Roof:

‘Rain on the Roof’ was written by Coates Kinney, an American poet and lawyer from the 19th century. The poem reflects rain’s soothing and contemplative effects on a person’s thoughts and memories. Let’s break down the poem stanza by stanza:

Stanza 1:

The speaker describes a scene where humid shadows are cast over the starry spheres, and the melancholy darkness seems to weep in rainy tears. The speaker finds bliss on a cottage-chamber bed, listening to the soft patter of raindrops on the roof.

Stanza 2:

The sound of rain on the shingles is emphasised, and the speaker notes that every tinkle has an echo in the heart. The rain evokes a flood of dreamy fancies and recollections. The patter of rain on the roof becomes a catalyst for a cascade of thoughts and memories.

Stanza 3:

The speaker’s memories are triggered, and the figure of the speaker’s mother comes to mind. The speaker recalls how the mother used to watch over her children as they dreamed, and the speaker can feel the fond look of the mother as the rain continues to play its rhythmic tune on the shingles.

To summarise, ‘Rain on the Roof’ captures the reflective and nostalgic feelings that rain can evoke. The sound of rain becomes a catalyst for memories, and the poem reflects on the warmth and comfort associated with the patter of raindrops, especially in the context of a cosy and familiar environment like a cottage-chamber bed.

Analysis (stanza wise) “Rain on the Roof:

‘Rain on the Roof’ is a poem by Coates Kinney that captures the mood and emotions associated with the sound of rain falling on a roof. 

Stanza 1:

The first stanza sets the scene with vivid imagery of a rainy night. The speaker describes the “humid shadows” and the melancholic darkness that weeps in rainy tears. The word “bliss” suggests a sense of comfort and joy associated with lying in a cottage-chamber bed and listening to the soft patter of rain overhead. This stanza establishes a tranquil and cosy atmosphere.

Stanza 2:

In the second stanza, the poet explores the emotional impact of the rain on the listener. The sound of raindrops on the shingles is said to echo in the heart, evoking a deep emotional response. The poet describes how the rain triggers a cascade of dreamy fancies and recollections, weaving a tapestry of memories and imagination. The repetition of the phrase “patter of the rain upon the roof” emphasises the poem’s central theme.

Stanza 3:

The final stanza introduces a personal dimension to the poem. The speaker recalls memories of their mother, who watched over them as they drifted asleep. The poet expresses a sense of nostalgia and warmth as they feel their mother’s fond look on them while listening to the rain. The repetition (patter of the rain), once again, reinforces the connection between the sound of rain and the comforting memories associated with it.

Let’s move further in the critical analysis of the poem.


  • Contemplative and Reflective: The poem has a contemplative tone as the speaker reflects on the sensory experience of rain and its connection to memories and emotions.
  • Nostalgic: The poem is nostalgic, especially in the third stanza, where the speaker fondly remembers their mother.
  • Gentle and Melancholic: The use of words like “gently,” “melancholy darkness,” and “rainy tears” contributes to a gentle and somewhat melancholic tone, creating a mood that is both soothing and reflective.

In summary, the tone of ‘Rain on the Roof’ evolves from a sense of tranquil bliss to a more introspective and emotionally resonant mood, ultimately culminating in a nostalgic and warm reflection on personal memories.


‘Rain on the Roof’ by Coates Kinney is a lyric poem with narrative elements. The poem predominantly focuses on expressing personal emotions, reflections, and memories associated with the sound of rain, aligning with the characteristics of lyric poetry. However, including narrative elements, particularly in the third stanza where the speaker recalls memories of their mother, suggests a blend of lyric and narrative qualities. Therefore, it can be considered a lyric poem with narrative elements.


The structure of a poem encompasses various elements, including its rhyme scheme, meter, and construction. Let’s break down the structure of ‘Rain on the Roof’ by Coates Kinney:

1. Stanzas:

  • The poem is structured into three stanzas.
  • Each stanza consists of eight lines, making them octaves.

2. Rhyme Scheme:

  • The rhyme scheme in each stanza is ABCBDEFE, indicating that the first and second lines rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines rhyme.

3. Meter:

  • The poem follows a generally regular meter with a rhythmic and melodic quality.

4. Repetition:

  • The poem utilises repetition for emphasis. The phrase “patter of the rain upon the roof” is repeated at the end of each stanza, creating a refrain that reinforces the poem’s central theme.

Theme “Rain on the Roof“: 

The overarching theme of ‘Rain on the Roof’ by Coates Kinney is rain’s emotional and nostalgic impact, particularly the sound of raindrops on the roof, on the speaker’s thoughts and memories. The poem delves into the following key theme:

  • Nostalgia and Memory: The poem’s central theme revolves around nostalgia and the evocation of memories. The sound of rain triggers the speaker’s recollections, particularly in the third stanza, where memories of the speaker’s mother are vividly recalled. This theme highlights the enduring emotional connection between the present experience of rain and memories.

While there are subthemes such as comfort, emotional resonance, and the sensory experience of rain, the overarching theme of nostalgia and memory dominates as the speaker reflects on the comforting and emotional associations the rain brings, especially concerning the presence of their mother.

Symbolism “Rain on the Roof“:

  1. Rain:
  • The rain in the poem symbolises more than just a natural phenomenon. It serves as a metaphor for emotional release, introspection, and the passage of time. The sound of rain triggers memories and deep feelings, connecting the external weather to the internal emotional landscape of the speaker.
  1. Mother:
  • The mention of the speaker’s mother adds a layer of symbolism. The mother represents a figure of comfort, care, and nurturing. The memories of the mother, triggered by the rain, symbolise a longing for the security and warmth associated with maternal love.

Imagery “Rain on the Roof”:

  1. Humid Shadows:
  • The opening line introduces the imagery of “humid shadows” that hover. This creates a sensory image of the dampness and darkness associated with a rainy night.
  1. Starry Spheres:
  • The poem mentions the “starry spheres,” contributing to the celestial imagery. This phrase evokes a sense of the vast night sky and adds a cosmic dimension to the scene.
  1. Melancholy Darkness:
  • The darkness is described as “melancholy,” infusing an emotional quality into the visual imagery. It suggests a sombre and reflective mood associated with the night.
  1. Gently Weeps in Rainy Tears:
  • This symbolic imagery personifies the darkness, suggesting a sorrowful or tearful quality. The rain is portrayed as the cause of the weeping, creating a vivid emotional image.
  1. Patter of the Soft Rain Overhead:
  • This phrase creates auditory and tactile imagery. The reader can almost hear the gentle patter of raindrops and feel the softness of the rain.
  1. Tinkle on the Shingles:
  • The tinkle on the shingles contributes to the auditory imagery. It enhances the reader’s ability to imagine the sound of raindrops on the roof.
  1. Air-Threads into Woof:
  • This symbolic image weaves the concept of recollections into a tapestry, using the metaphor of threads and woof (the weft in weaving). It emphasises the interconnection of memories.

To conclude the critical analysis of the poem ‘Rain on the Roof’ by Coates Kinney, it celebrates rain’s soothing and nostalgic effects, transforming it into a source of comfort, reflection, and emotional resonance. The poem explores the interconnectedness of nature, memory, and human emotion, using the sensory experience of rain to evoke a range of feelings and recollections.

Line-by-Line Explanation “Rain on the Roof“:

Stanza 1:

  1. “When the humid shadows hover”: The poet begins by setting the scene, describing the presence of damp shadows in the air as a precursor to rain.
  1. “Over all the starry spheres”: The shadows cover the entire expanse, including the star-filled skies.
  1. “And the melancholy darkness”: The poet personifies darkness as melancholy, suggesting a sombre mood.
  1. “Gently weeps in rainy tears”: The rain is described as tears falling gently from the sky, contributing to the gloomy atmosphere.
  1. “What a bliss to press the pillow”: The poet expresses the joy or bliss of lying in bed during a rainy night.
  1. “Of a cottage-chamber bed”: Specifically, the image is of a cosy bed in a cottage, emphasising simplicity and comfort.
  1. “And lie listening to the patter”: The speaker enjoys lying down and listening to the rhythmic sound of raindrops hitting various surfaces.
  1. “Of the soft rain overhead”: The rain is characterised as soft, adding to the tranquil ambience.

Stanza 2:

  1. “Every tinkle on the shingles”: The poet describes the sound of raindrops hitting the shingles (roof tiles), creating a tinkling sound.
  1. “Has an echo in the heart”: Each raindrop’s sound resonates emotionally within the speaker.
  1. “And a thousand dreamy fancies”: The rain evokes numerous fanciful thoughts and dreams.
  1. “Into busy being start”: These dreams and fancies come to life in the mind, becoming active and vivid.
  1. “And a thousand recollections”: Rain triggers memories and reflections.
  1. “Weave their air-threads into woof”: These memories intertwine like threads (woof) in the fabric of the speaker’s thoughts.
  1. “As I listen to the patter”: The repetition of the pleasure of listening to the rain on the roof is emphasised.
  1. “Of the rain upon the roof”: Reiteration of the central theme, the sound of rain on the roof.

Stanza 3:

  1. “Now in memory comes my mother.”: The speaker’s thoughts turn to his mother, recalling her from years ago.
  1. “As she used in years agone”: Reflecting on how she watched over and cared for the speaker when he was young.
  1. “To regard the darling dreamers”: She loved to observe her dreaming children.
  1. “Ere she left them till the dawn”: Before leaving them alone until morning.
  1. “O! I feel her fond look on me.”: The speaker feels the warmth and love of his mother’s gaze in his memories.
  1. “As I list to this refrain”: While listening to the repetitive sound of the rain.
  1. “Which is played upon the shingles” Refers to the raindrops playing a soothing melody on the roof.
  1. “By the patter of the rain”: The poem concludes with a repetition of the comforting sound of raindrops on the roof.

Literary Devices “Rain on the Roof“:

Question/ Answers “Rain on the Roof:

Textbook Questions:

I. 1. What do the following phrases mean to you? Discuss in class.

(i) Humid shadows

(ii) Starry spheres

(iii) What a bliss

(iv) A thousand dreamy fancies into busy being start

(v) A thousand recollections weave their air-threads into woof

A. These phrases collectively contribute to the poem’s sensory and emotional richness, creating a vivid and contemplative atmosphere.

i) “Humid shadows“: This phrase suggests shadows associated with humidity or dampness. It could imply a muggy or moist atmosphere, perhaps during or after rain. The humidity might enhance the shadows’ presence or create a unique atmosphere.

(ii) “Starry spheres: Refers to the celestial bodies in the night sky, such as stars. The term “spheres” implies the vastness and depth of the cosmos, creating an image of a night sky filled with stars.

(iii) “What a bliss”: This phrase expresses extreme joy or happiness. The speaker is remarking on the immense pleasure or contentment derived from a particular experience, in this case, lying in bed and listening to the rain.

(iv) “A thousand dreamy fancies into busy being start”: This line suggests that the sound of rain triggers numerous imaginative thoughts or fantasies in the mind. The word “fancies” refers to whimsical or imaginative ideas. The phrase indicates a creative and active mental response to the soothing sound of rain.

(v) “A thousand recollections weave their air-threads into woof”: This line conveys that the rain also prompts the recall of numerous memories. The term “air-threads” implies the intangible nature of memories, and “woof” is a metaphor for the interconnected fabric of these recollections. The imagery here suggests a weaving together of various memories stimulated by the sound of rain.

2. What does the poet like to do when it rains?

A2: The poet expresses a deep appreciation for the experience of rain in the poem. When it rains, the poet enjoys lying in bed in a cottage chamber, listening to the soothing sound of the raindrops falling on the roof. The poet finds bliss in this simple yet comforting act, describing it as a joy to press the pillow of the bed and be enveloped in the atmosphere created by the rain.

The poet takes pleasure in rain’s sensory and emotional effects, using phrases like “What a bliss” to convey the happiness and contentment derived from this experience. The sound of rain becomes a source of comfort, triggering imaginative thoughts and memories. The poet is drawn to the tranquillity and nostalgia that the rain brings, making it a cherished and blissful moment.

3: What is the single major memory that comes to the poet? Who are the “darling dreamers” he refers to?

A3: The single significant memory that comes to the poet is of his mother, who used to watch over him and the “darling dreamers” in years gone by. 

The term “darling dreamers” likely refers to the poet and possibly siblings or loved ones who shared the experience of listening to the rain with the mother. The memory is deeply sentimental, evoking a sense of warmth and love. The poet recalls how his mother regarded them fondly before leaving them until dawn. As the poet lies in bed, listening to the rain, he feels the presence of his mother’s affectionate gaze, connecting the comforting sound of rain to the nurturing and protective presence of a loved one, creating a poignant and nostalgic moment.

4. Is the poet now a child? Is his mother still alive?

A4: The nostalgic tone and reminiscence of the mother watching over the “darling dreamers” in years gone by suggest the poet is recalling a childhood memory. 

In the context of the poem “Rain on the Roof” by Coates Kinney, it is implied that the poet’s mother is no longer alive. The lines “Now in memory comes my mother” and “Ere she left them till the dawn” suggest that the poet recalls the mother in the past tense. The word “memory” and the reference to the mother leaving them till the dawn indicate that the recollections are of a time when the mother was alive but is no longer present in the poet’s current experiences.

Extra Questions “Rain on the Roof”: 

Q1: What is the central idea of the poem?

A1: The central idea of the poem ‘Rain on the Roof’ by Coates Kinney revolves around rain’s soothing and nostalgic impact. The poet describes the serene and blissful atmosphere created by the soft rain falling on a cottage roof. The rain becomes a catalyst for introspection, triggering dreamy fancies and recollections. The poet fondly remembers his mother and the comforting moments of the past associated with rainy nights. In brief, the poem explores the emotional and nostalgic connections that rain can evoke, emphasising the profound impact of nature on human emotions and memories.

Q2: What is the mood conveyed by Coates Kinney in Stanza 1 of ‘Rain on the Roof’?

A2: The mood in Stanza 1 is serene and blissful. The poet describes the comforting atmosphere created by the soft rain and the joy of lying in a cottage-chamber bed while listening to the patter of raindrops overhead.

Q3: How does the poet describe the effect of rain on the shingles in Stanza 2?

A3: In Stanza 2, the poet describes the raindrops on the shingles as creating a tinkle, and each tinkle echoes in the heart. The sound of the rain on the roof triggers a cascade of dreamy fancies and recollections.

Q4: Who does the poet recall in Stanza 3, and what memories are associated with this person?

A4: In Stanza 3, the poet recalls his mother. The memories associated with his mother include her looking fondly at the dreaming children before leaving them until dawn. The poet feels his mother’s presence as he listens to the rain playing on the shingles.

Q5: What is the significance of the rain in the poem ‘Rain on the Roof’?

A5: The rain in the poem catalyses nostalgic reflections and reflective moments. It creates a soothing and comforting atmosphere that brings forth memories, dreams, and emotions, connecting the present moment to the past.

Q6: How does the poem explore the theme of the passage of time and the continuity of memories?

A6: ‘Rain on the Roof’ delves into the theme of time and memory, highlighting the enduring nature of specific experiences. The speaker recalls the past, particularly the image of their mother watching over them as they slept. 

The patter of rain serves as a connective thread between past and present, as memories are woven into the woof of the speaker’s consciousness. The poem suggests that the speaker is transported back in time through the auditory and sensory experience of rain, emphasising memories’ timeless and cyclical nature.

Q7: How does the poem navigate between the external, natural world of rain and the internal, emotional world of memories?

A7: ‘Rain on the Roof’ skillfully navigates between the external and internal realms, seamlessly blending the natural world of rain with the emotional landscape of memories. The rain is a sensory trigger, connecting the speaker to the external environment. 

Simultaneously, it becomes a link for introspection, leading the speaker into a realm of personal recollections and imaginative musings. This interplay between the external and internal elements adds complexity to the poem, emphasising the interconnectedness of the physical and emotional experiences in shaping the speaker’s perspective.

Q8: How does the poem balance the specific, personal memories of the speaker with universal themes that resonate universally?

A8: While the poem delves into specific, personal memories of the speaker, it skillfully intertwines them with universal themes, ensuring a resonance with a broader audience. The imagery of rain, the comforts of a cottage-chamber bed, and the maternal presence are universally relatable elements that evoke collective nostalgia. 

Grounding the poem in tangible, sensory experiences taps into the common threads of human emotion. Thus, the poem achieves a delicate balance, weaving an individual’s memories into a tapestry that speaks to the shared human experience of longing, comfort, and the passage of time.

Q9: What is the significance of repeating the phrase “patter of the rain upon the roof” throughout the poem?

A9: The repetition of the phrase “patter of the rain upon the roof” in the poem serves as a rhythmic refrain that captures the sensory essence of rain and carries profound symbolic weight. This repetition acts like a musical motif, creating a meditative cadence that lulls the reader into the contemplative mood of the speaker. 

Beyond its auditory appeal, the recurrence of this phrase becomes a thematic anchor, symbolising the continuity of time, memory, and emotional connection. Each repetition reinforces the cyclic nature of rain, mirroring the eternal recurrence of memories and emotions. It transforms a mundane natural occurrence into a poetic device that unifies the poem, emphasising the enduring impact of external phenomena and internal reflections.

Extract-Based Questions “Rain on the Roof“: 

Extract 1

“When the humid shadows hover

Over all the starry spheres

And the melancholy darkness

Gently weeps in rainy tears,

What a bliss to press the pillow

Of a cottage-chamber bed

And lie listening to the patter

Of the soft rain overhead!”

Q1: How does the poet describe the atmospheric conditions in the opening lines, and what impact do they have?

A1: The poet describes the atmospheric conditions with “humid shadows” hovering over starry spheres and the “melancholy darkness” weeping in rainy tears. These vivid images create a contemplative and emotional atmosphere, setting the tone for the poem.

Q2: What is the significance of the cottage-chamber bed in the speaker’s perception of bliss?

A2: The cottage-chamber bed is a haven of bliss for the speaker. It represents a cosy and intimate space where the speaker finds comfort, emphasising the emotional and physical sanctuary of familiar surroundings.

Q3: How does the poet use personification in describing the darkness, and what emotions does it evoke?

A3: The poet personifies darkness, suggesting it “gently weeps in rainy tears.” This personification infuses a sense of melancholy and emotional depth, portraying the night as a conscious entity experiencing sorrow through the metaphor of weeping.

Q4: What role does the patter of soft rain play in the speaker’s experience, and how is it portrayed?

A4: The patter of soft rain is portrayed as a source of bliss for the speaker. It serves as a soothing and rhythmic backdrop, enhancing the sensory experience and contributing to the peaceful ambience described in the poem.

Q5: How does the poem evoke a sense of sensory richness, and how does it impact the reader?

A5: The poem evokes a sense of sensory richness through detailed imagery, such as pressing the pillow of a cottage-chamber bed and listening to the patter of soft rain. This sensory richness draws the reader into the intimate experience of the speaker, fostering a deeper emotional connection and making the poem more vivid and relatable.

Extract 2

“Every tinkle on the shingles

Has an echo in the heart;

And a thousand dreamy fancies

Into busy being start,

And a thousand recollections

Weave their air-threads into woof,

As I listen to the patter

Of the rain upon the roof.”

Q1: How does the sound of rain affect the speaker’s emotions and imagination?

A1: The sound of rain profoundly impacts the speaker’s emotions and imagination. Each tinkle on the shingles echoes in the heart, initiating a cascade of dreamy fancies and recollections.

Q2: How does the imagery of “a thousand dreamy fancies” contribute to the mood of the poem?

A2: The imagery of “a thousand dreamy fancies” adds to the whimsical and imaginative mood of the poem, suggesting that the sound of rain sparks a multitude of creative and fantastical thoughts in the speaker’s mind.

Q3: What does the phrase “air-threads into woof” signify in the context of the poem?

A3: The phrase “air-threads into woof” metaphorically represents the weaving of countless recollections into the fabric of the speaker’s consciousness, emphasising the interconnectedness of memories.

Q4: How does the speaker describe the impact of the rain on their state of being?

A4: The speaker describes the impact of the rain as initiating a busy state of being, where a myriad of thoughts and memories come to life, creating a vibrant and reflective mental landscape.

Q5: What role does the repetition of the phrase “patter of the rain upon the roof” play in this excerpt?

A5: The repetition of the phrase “patter of the rain upon the roof” is a rhythmic refrain that enhances the poem’s musicality, emphasising the continuous and soothing nature of the sound in the speaker’s contemplative experience.

Extract 3

“Now in memory comes my mother,

As she used in years agone,

To regard the darling dreamers

Ere she left them till the dawn:

O! I feel her fond look on me

As I list to this refrain

Which is played upon the shingles

By the patter of the rain.”

Q1: Who is being remembered in this part of the poem?

A1: The speaker is remembering their mother.

Q2: How did the mother interact with the speaker and other dreamers in the past?

A2: The mother used to regard the darling dreamers (presumably the speaker and his siblings) before leaving them until dawn.

Q3: What emotion does the speaker associate with the memory of their mother?

A3: The speaker associates a fond and affectionate emotion with the memory of their mother.

Q4: What does the speaker feel as they listen to the refrain played upon the shingles?

A4: The speaker feels the fond look of their mother on them as they listen to the refrain played upon the shingles.

Q5: What is the significance of the phrase “played upon the shingles” in this context?

A5: The phrase “played upon the shingles” suggests that the sound of the rain on the roof serves as a musical or rhythmic element that invokes the memory of the speaker’s mother, adding a sensory and emotional layer to the experience.


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