We asked for rain. It didn’t flash and roar.
It didn’t lose its temper at our demand
And blow a gale. It didn’t misunderstand
And give us more than our spokesman bargained for;
And just because we owned to a wish for rain,
Send us a flood and bid us be damned and drown.
It gently threw us a glittering shower down.
And when we had taken that into the roots of grain,
It threw us another and then another still,
Till the spongy soil again was natal wet.
We may doubt the just proportion of good to ill.
There is much in nature against us. But we forget;
Take nature altogether since time began,
Including human nature, in peace and war,
And it must be a little more in favor of man,
Say a fraction of one percent at the very least,
Or our number living wouldn’t be steadily more,
Our hold on the planet wouldn’t have so increased.
My freshman year, in our required Introduction to the Humanities course, one of our assignments was to memorize a poem—any poem. This one was mine, and it’s been a favorite since then. It steps so cautiously around “the just proportion of good to ill.”