Study Guide

Twelfth Song of Thunder Quotes

  • Man and the Natural World

    The voice that beautifies the land! (1)

    The first line of the poem already clues us into the fact that this is a poem about nature and landscape. “Land” is in that first line, after all. This line is repeated three more times (lines 6, 7, and 12). From this line, it’s clear that this is a poem about the beauty of nature.

    The voice of thunder
    Within the dark cloud (3-4)

    Here we’re getting an image of the awesome power of nature and of nature’s voice. Thunder is a pretty scary noise, and so is the dark cloud, but it’s also beautiful. It’s one of the things that lends nature its beauty.

    The voice of the grasshopper
    Among the plants (9-10)

    While thunder comes from the clouds, the voice of the grasshopper comes from the ground, from among plants. This image is giving us a sense of the fact that even the small voices of nature—in this case, those of insects—contribute to the beauty of nature.

  • Spirituality

    The voice above,
    The voice of thunder (2-3)

    The voice coming from above, from the clouds, may not be God’s voice, but it’s a spiritual voice nonetheless. The very fact that the speaker describes the noise that the thunder makes as a “voice” suggests that there is something (or someone) speaking to us through the thunder. There’s a spiritual presence in the clouds, and the thunder is its expression.

    Again and again it sounds,
    The voice that beautifies the land (5-6)

    In telling us that the voice of thunder sounds “again and again,” the speaker suggests that we can’t escape the power of this voice. And this power is itself a reflection of the spiritual power of nature, which we can’t ignore.

    The voice below,
    The voice of the grasshopper (8-9)

    Here, again describing the noise that a grasshopper makes in terms of a “voice,” the speaker suggests that there’s a spiritual presence that speaks to us through the noises that the tiniest insects make. We may not understand what the grasshoppers are telling us (unless, you know, we have magical powers that can make us understand grasshopper language) but we understand enough to know that something else—something bigger than them—is speaking through them.

  • Awe and Amazement

    The voice that beautifies the land! (1)

    This first line of the poem is already giving us a sense of the speaker’s awe and amazement. It’s a line that ends with an exclamation mark. That exclamation mark suggests that the speaker is pretty excited, or awe-struck, by this voice he’s hearing.

    The voice of thunder
    Within the dark cloud (3-4)

    Even though this is a pretty simple description of thunder and dark clouds, the imagery is still pretty powerful. Thunder and dark clouds are a spectacular sight (and sound). So we can assume that the speaker is pretty amazed by the vision and sound of thunder and clouds. Why else would he be including a description of them in the song?

    The voice of the grasshopper
    Among the plants (9-10)

    The speaker is just talking about an itty-bitty grasshopper in the grass here. And yet, by mentioning this grasshopper after the thunder, and by speaking about it in the same terms as he did about the thunder, the speaker suggests that he is as awed and amazed by the little things in the grass as he is by the grand things up in the clouds.

  • Time

    The voice that beautifies the land! (1, 6, 7, 12)

    The refrain of this line that the poem opens with suggests that time moves in a cyclical way. The voice of thunder and of the grasshopper beautify the land over and over again.

    The voice of thunder
    Within the dark cloud
    Again and again it sounds (3-5)

    These lines again emphasize the idea of time as cyclical. The “voice of thunder” sounds “again and again.” It’s a repeated sound. This suggests that things don’t happen once, they happen over and over again in nature.

    The voice of the grasshopper
    Among the plants
    Again and again it sounds (9-11)

    The voice of the grasshopper, like the voice of thunder, sounds “again and again.” So here, we’re also getting this idea that things recur in nature, which means that time moves in circles. The line “again and again it sounds” is itself repeated from the first stanza. So by using repetition in this way, the speaker dramatizes the repeated movement of time.