Throughout the story, natural phenomena and raw materials symbolize nature’s lasting dominance over humankind and technology. A few birds, cats, foxes, and the dog survive the atomic bomb, for example, suggesting that nature can endure even the most destructive technology human beings have at their disposal. Later in the story, a tree branch falls on the house, causing the fire that ultimately destroys the building. Both the tree and the fire are additional representations of nature that prove adept at infiltrating and destroying mankind’s technological creations. The water that runs out while the house tries to extinguish the fire further represents the ultimate reliance of even advanced technology on the resources of natural world; though the house wishes to entirely close itself off from nature—shutting its windows and drawing its shades “in an old maidenly preoccupation with self-protection”—it nevertheless must rely on nature for sustenance—for the wood for its fires, the water to clean its dishes and sprinkle over its lawn, and the food to prepare for the (now dead) family. Bradbury’s inclusion of Sara Teasdale’s poem solidifies the dominion of nature of man, ending with a line asserting that “Spring herself” would not notice mankind’s absence. Finally, the sun that shines over the smoldering rubble of the house in the last moments of the story symbolizes nature’s definitive victory over mankind’s creations.
The Natural World Quotes in There Will Come Soft Rains
The front door recognized the dog voice and opened. The dog, once huge and fleshy, but now gone to bone and covered with sores, moved in and through the house, tracking mud. Behind it whirred angry mice, angry at having to pick up mud, angry at inconvenience.
There was the sound like a great matted yellow hive of bees within a dark bellows, the lazy bumble of a purring lion. And there was the patter of okapi feet and the murmur of a fresh jungle rain, like other hoofs, falling upon the summer-starched grass.
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
At ten o’clock the house began to die. The wind blew. A falling tree bough crashed through the kitchen window. Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over the stove. The room was ablaze in an instant!
The fire crackled up the stairs. It fed upon Picassos and Matisses in the upper halls, like delicacies, baking off the oily flesh, tenderly crisping the canvases into black shavings.
But the fire was clever. It had sent flames outside the house, up through the attic to the pumps there. An explosion! The attic brain which directed the pumps was shattered into bronze shrapnel on the beams.
The house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared skeleton cringing from the heat, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air.
In the last instant under the fire avalanche, other choruses, oblivious, could be heard announcing the time, playing music, cutting the lawn by remote-control mower, or setting an umbrella frantically out and in the slamming and opening front door, a thousand things happening, like a clock shop when each clock strikes the hour insanely before or after the other, a scene of maniac confusion, yet unity; singing, screaming, a few last cleaning mice darting bravely out to carry the horrid ashes away! And one voice, with sublime disregard for the situation, read poetry aloud in the fiery study, until all the film spools burned, until all the wires withered and the circuits cracked.
Dawn showed faintly in the east. Among the ruins, one wall stood alone. Within the wall, a last voice said, over and over again and again, even as the sun rose to shine upon the heaped rubble and steam: “Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is…”