Emily Dickinson, The Wind


Of all the sounds despatched abroad,
There’s not a charge to me
Like that old measure in the boughs,
That phraseless melody
The wind does, working like a hand
Whose fingers brush the sky,
Then quiver down, with tufts of tune
Permitted gods and me.
When winds go round and round in bands,
And thrum upon the door,
And birds take places overhead,
To bear them orchestra,
I crave him grace, of summer boughs,
If such an outcast be,
He never heard that fleshless chant
Rise solemn in the tree,
As if some caravan of sound
On deserts, in the sky,
Had broken rank,
Then knit, and passed
In seamless company.

In reading Emily’s poems.  Here are some pointers.

  • Stay open to linguistic surprise. The characteristics that help to make Dickinson’s poetry so intriguing—are the absence of titles.  That’s a surprise because it is the most irritating, but in other ways it is the most opening. Look at the poem briefly and take a key phrase and make it the title.  Now read the poem and see how it goes.  After you’ve read it a few times you may want to change the title, but then many poets do too.
  • Read it aloud.  I recommend this method most of all.