Themes in John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo’s “Night Rain”

"Night Rain" explores several themes through its vivid depiction of a poor family's experience during a night of heavy rainfall.


Night Rain” explores several themes through its vivid depiction of a poor family’s experience during a night of heavy rainfall. The themes that emerge from the poem include:

Adversity and Resilience

The poem highlights the challenging circumstances faced by the poor family living in a riverine area with a damaged thatched roof. Despite their difficult living conditions, the family demonstrates resilience in coping with the leaking roof and the hazards posed by the rain. The mother’s practiced steps and the children’s adjustment to their plight reveal their ability to adapt and endure in the face of adversity.

Nature’s Power and Influence

The poem emphasizes the force and persistence of the rain, portraying it as a powerful natural phenomenon. The rain is described as “drumming” and “droning,” capturing its rhythmic and relentless nature. The rain’s impact on the family, the environment, and even the creatures like the owl and bat emphasizes the profound influence of nature on human lives.


The Beauty of Rain

Despite the challenges it brings, the rain is also depicted as a source of beauty and comfort. The poem describes the raindrops falling like fruits or prayer beads, evoking imagery of abundance and serenity. The calming and soothing effect of the rain on the children, as they roll over to its rhythm, suggests a sense of peace and pleasure derived from the rainfall.

Connection to the Environment

The riverine setting of the poem connects the family’s experience to the natural environment. The references to fishing, the sea, and the iroko tree create a sense of place and emphasize the family’s close relationship with their surroundings. The rain serves as a unifying element, connecting the family to the larger natural world and fostering a sense of belonging.

Innocence and Freedom

The poem portrays the innocence of the children as they find solace and freedom in the rain. The imagery of the “innocent and free” sleep implies a temporary escape from their challenging reality. The rain’s “ample soothing hand” and the rhythmic drumming create a comforting atmosphere that allows the children to experience a moment of freedom and joy.

The Passage of Time

The poem captures a specific moment in time—the night rain experience. It explores the transition from deep sleep to wakefulness and the eventual return to sleep. The cyclical nature of the rain, the repetitive actions of the family, and the closing lines that suggest a return to slumber allude to the passage of time and the transient nature of the rainstorm.


Night Rain” intertwines themes of adversity, resilience, the power of nature, beauty, connection to the environment, innocence, freedom, and the passage of time. Through its rich imagery and poetic devices, the poem invites readers to reflect on the profound impact of natural phenomena and the human capacity to endure and find solace in challenging circumstances.

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