Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Rain King



The Rain King

If the rain king saw
reason, he would suck it up.

He would head northward
and settle somewhere
around Vancouver B.C.
where he has duties
anyway.

July 18, 2011 1:44 PM

When I wrote this poem I had no conscious knowledge of this

Henderson the Rain King is a 1959 novel by Saul Bellow. The book's blend of philosophical discourse and comic adventure has helped make it one of his most enduringly popular works.

It is said to be Bellow's own favorite amongst his books.

It was ranked number 21 on Modern Library's list of the 100 Best Novels in the English language.

PLot Summary: Eugene Henderson is a troubled middle-aged man. Despite his riches, high social status, and physical prowess, he feels restless and unfulfilled, and harbors a spiritual void that manifests itself as an inner voice crying out I want, I want, I want. Hoping to discover what the voice wants, Henderson goes to Africa.

Upon reaching Africa, Henderson splits with his original group and hires a native guide, Romilayu. Romilayu leads Henderson to the village of the Arnewi, where Henderson befriends the leaders of the village. He learns that the cistern from which the Arnewi get their drinking water is plagued by frogs, thus rendering the water "unclean" according to local taboos. Henderson attempts to save the Arnewi by ridding them of the frogs, but his enthusiastic scheme ends in disaster.

Henderson and Romilayu travel on to the village of the Wariri. Here, Henderson impulsively performs a feat of strength by moving the giant wooden statue of the goddess Mummah and unwittingly becomes the Wariri Rain King, Sungo. He quickly develops a friendship with the native-born but western-educated Chief, King Dahfu, with whom he engages in a series of far-reaching philosophical discussions.

The elders send Dahfu to find a lion, which is supposedly the reincarnation of the late king, Dahfu's father. The lion hunt fails and the lion mortally wounds the king. Henderson learns shortly before Dahfu's death that the Rain King is the next person in the line of succession for the throne. Having no interest in being king and desiring only to return home, Henderson flees the Wariri village.

Although it is unclear whether Henderson has truly found spiritual contentment, the novel ends on an optimistic and uplifting note.

Is it possible that my poem is a sequel?

1 comment:

  1. This is the point at which one distinguishes between competency and talent. Saul Bellow has mastered the public requirements of a published writer as well as the craft and the control of his life's discipline.

    I am possibly in the same category in talent and producing work. However, I have neither the skill, the experience, nor the interest to gather the practical competencies of publishing.

    It is unclear whether producing and publishing upwards of 2100 poems with a couple hundred in reserve still is a comparable body of work. I am not done writing, I don't think, but I have slowed considerably. Also, I have earlier stuff but I don't feel I can count it. I did not hit my stride until the fall of 2008.

    ReplyDelete

The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.


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