Tattered and Tumbling

The rain and the wind, the wind and the rain —
They are with us like a disease:
They worry the heart,
they work the brain,
As they shoulder and clutch at the shrieking pane,
And savage the helpless trees.
What does it profit a man to know
These tattered and tumbling skies
A million stately stars will show,
And the ruining grace of the after-glow
And the rush of the wild sunrise?
~William Ernest Henley from “The Rain and the Wind”

Yesterday a heavy rain
darkened a sodden gray dawn
when unbidden, a sudden gust
ripped loose remaining leaves
and sent them spinning,
swirling earthbound
in yellow clouds.

The battering of rain and wind
left no doubt
summer is done for good —
the past is past.

I hunker through the turbulence,
tattered and tumbling,
and await a clear night for
heaven to empty itself into
a fragile crystalline dawn.






2 thoughts on “Tattered and Tumbling

  1. Dear Emily,

    Your morning’s post triggered memory of one of Robert Frost’s most powerful poems, a short work often overlooked in his portfolio. In just six lines, he captures, with beautiful and bleak efficiency, the nearly unspeakable anguish that often attends the human condition. I thought you might appreciate, Frost’s “Lodged” …

    The rain to the wind said,
    ‘You push and I’ll pelt.’
    They so smote the garden bed
    That the flowers actually knelt,
    And lay lodged–though not dead.
    I know how the flowers felt.

    My understanding is that Frost, who knew his share of pain, used the term ‘lodged’ in its now archaic meaning, ‘to beat down crops’. He leaves us with the image of flowers, whose stems, while still connected to the life of the plant, are too broken to ever right themselves.

    Perhaps only ‘Resurrection’ can answer this kind of pain. Perhaps only ‘Resurrection’ can answer pain at all.



  2. great poem that I’ve never seen before, Paul! thanks for sharing that and yes, “lodged” is something we are very familiar with here in the spring with heavy rains on new fields. Only resurrection can answer that kind of beating.


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