(Poem #882) Wind
This house has been far out at sea all night, The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills, Winds stampeding the fields under the window Floundering black astride and blinding wet Till day rose; then under an orange sky The hills had new places, and wind wielded Blade-light, luminous black and emerald, Flexing like the lens of a mad eye. At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as The coal-house door. Once I looked up -- Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope, The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace, At any second to bang and vanish with a flap; The wind flung a magpie away and a black- Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house Rang like some fine green goblet in the note That any second would shatter it. Now deep In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought, Or each other. We watch the fire blazing, And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on, Seeing the window tremble to come in, Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.
From the arresting opening image of a farmhouse being tossed about like a ship in a storm, right through to the tense, not-quite-resolved ending, this is a breathtakingly vivid poem. Hughes captures the power of the wind in phrases that ring with an elemental fury of their own, a wild and unquenchable energy. This effect is enhanced by his choice of words: 'brunt' is only the most obvious example of his eschewing pretty Latinate constructs for gritty Germanic equivalents. Indeed, the ancestry of this poem is very clear: "Wind" belongs to the tradition of Icelandic sagas and Norse mythology, poems which celebrate, with a mixture of awe and dread, the unimaginable power of Nature and the insignificance of Man. thomas. [Minstrels Links] Ted Hughes: Poem #42, Hawk Roosting Poem #98, The Thought Fox Poem #417, Thistles Poem #671, Lineage Poem #723, Full Moon and Little Frieda Poem #768, Theology Sylvia Plath: Poem #53, Winter landscape, with rocks Poem #129, Ariel Poem #366, Child Poem #404, Daddy Poem #612, Love Letter Poem #678, Mirror Poem #881, The Moon and the Yew-tree Others: Poem #109, The Viking Terror -- Anon. (Irish, 9th century) Poem #145, Ice -- Anon. (Old English, 10th century) Poem #326, The Seafarer -- Anon. (Old English, pre-10th century