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Storm of Huge Raindrops

Dreamed 1525/5/30 and painted 5/31, by Albrecht Dürer

The dream-note under Durer's watercolor says:

In 1525 in the night between Wednesday and Thursday after Whitsunday, I saw this appearance in my sleep--how many great waters fell from heaven. The first struck the earth about four miles away from me with terrific force and tremendous noise, and it broke up and drowned the whole land. I was so sore afraid that I awoke from it. Then the other waters fell, and as they fell they were very powerful, and there were many of them, some further away, some nearer. And they came down from so great a height that they all seemed to fall with an equal slowness. But when the first water that touched the earth had very nearly reached it, it fell with such swiftness, with wind and roaring, and I was so sore afraid that when I awoke my whole body trembled, and for a long while I could not recover myself. So when I arose in the morning, I painted it above here as I saw it. God turn all these things to the best.


Watercolor by Albrecht Durer of a nightmare about a storm with raindrops the size of cathedrals bombarding the land.


We tend to forget that humans are a tiny minority on Earth: creatures big enough to find rain merely cold, not deadly. We're giants; out of millions of animal species, only a handful are our size or larger. For the average creature--an ant, a hummingbird, a mouse, this is what rain is--a painful bombardment that may drown you as it floods nests and burrows. Dürer was a close and eager observer of nature; here, I think he was privileged to see as small creatures do--and it terrified him.

--Chris Wayan

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