Wind Ted Hughes
Learning Objectives • To understand the content of the poem ‘Wind’. • To examine the use of imagery, personification, simile and metaphors in the poem. • To explore the power of nature and the vulnerability and insignificance of humankind through the depiction of a storm.
Starter: Read the poem and find the following. Consider why they’re used. • Examples of Alliteration • Similes • Metaphors • Personification • Imagery • Verbs that create a sense of violence • Eye/Vision Imagery
This house has been far out at sea all night, The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills, Look at the opening line – what can you say about it? Winds stampeding the fields under the window Floundering black astride and blinding wet Till day rose; then under an orange sky Identify the verbs – what is their significance? What’s the significance of the simile in stanza 2? The hills had new places, and wielded Blade-light, luminous black and emerald, How is the wind personified? Flexing like the lens of a mad eye. At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as Why does the poet say he ‘scaled’ the side of the house? What kind of word is this? 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, How is the metaphor of the house as a boat continued?
The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace, • Comment on the disturbing imagery in stanza 4, how does it add to the impression already created of the wind? • How does the alliteration affect the way we read this stanza? • Identify the simile in stanza 5 – what is its significance? • Comment on the personification of the windows and stones in the final stanza. Why are they personified and what does it show? • What do you think is the message of the poem? 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.
Wind (1966) • Structure: 6 X quatrains of equal length. • The poem is written in the first person, giving an account of the poet’s personal experience. • • The first four stanzas are in the past tense, while the last two are in the present tense. This gives a sense of how long the storm has been raging. • The poet constantly uses enjambment to show the continuous, relentless progress of the enervating storm. • Nature poem – but not one that aspires to traditional pastoral conventions. But at the end of the poem, he changes from “I” to “WE”; showing that he is not alone in facing the storm
Sea Metaphor – house feels like a boat at sea. Creates a sense of isolation. The opening line here reveals distance, time as well as the environment. These images have a quality of a nightmare about them and the verb ‘floundering’ creates a feeling of futility. Violent Verbs: crashing, booming, stampeding, floundering and blinding. The wind is elevated to biblical proportions. Personification: the wood and the winds are personified. Wind is changing the landscape/ changing nature of the sea. Personification – makes it sound like the wind is doing battle with the landscape. Simile – refers back to the sea metaphor, the stormy sky here is rapidly changing – ‘flexing’ The verb ‘scaled’ sounds perilous, not simply walking but akin to climbing a mountain. Mad here has connotations of being unpredictable and unreasonable Guy rope - a cable, wire, or rope that is used to brace something (especially a tent). Gives impression house is flimsy against the might of nature. Metaphor – the hills are likened to tents or sails on ship. Keeps the extended metaphor of the house as a ship going throughout the past tense stanzas of the poem.
Personification of the fields here creates impression that the wind is a bully. Imagery – the violence of the personified wind is disturbing, almost evil as it carelessly tosses bird aside. Alliteration – this slowed reading pace reflects the progress of the bird and its difficulty fighting the wind. Simile of gull ‘bent like an iron bar’ adds to this disturbing and violent imagery and adds to the personification of the wind. The Poet moves from the first person singular (I) to the first person plural (we) and it’s clear that the poet and his companion are paralysed by the wind Simile – the house has so far stood up to the onslaught but it is a finely balanced and fragile situation that could be shattered any second. Feeling of destruction continues - it ‘rang’ like an echo and stays a while. Theme: Respect for nature’s weapons. In some instances respect turns to terror as if hiding from some omnipotent tyrant. Personification of the window trembling and the stones crying out in the final lines reveals how even inanimate objects are displaying fear and distress. Also, as one item in man-made and the other natural, one could argue that nature doesn’t differentiate and is an equal opportunities bully!
Other Interpretations • Hughes was married to Plath who killed herself – he said that “she had been on that track for most of her life”. • The Wind has been described as an extended metaphor for their relationship. • The weakness of the people and the house could represent her lack of emotional stability. • The fragility of the hills, house and windows could be a metaphor for how fragile their relationship was.