Tuesday, 11 March 2008

West Winds

You may have heard that the British mainland has been buffeted by storms recently. Or perhaps not; is this really international news?

Well, on Sunday afternoon, and the weekend was better than forecast (it had threatened rain all weekend but I actually did a lot of weeding - again - and some planting!), we battened down the hatches in preparation for the coming, promised gale force winds set to hit overnight on Sunday (and peak during Monday morning rush hour, oh joy). Husband added some brackets to the left fence which included a fair amount of drilling into the concrete posts, and they have held everything in place wonderfully - not a panel down!

The winds weren't so bad here in London, but Monday morning was no picnic. Yes, strong wind and rain, on the walk to the train, followed by boughts of sunshine (unexpected) and more sideways rain (definitely expected) during the day. Coastally, of course, it was a different story, but this is an island, after all.

But today, even though we were promised some more of those winds, and it certainly is picking up out there, they seem to have a nicer, friendlier breath - which puts me in mind of one of my favourite poets, and poems.

So if you'll allow me, I'm going to throw poetry at you. You know how you can smell Spring in the air? That's what I scented tonight in the rising winds - not harsh and wintery like Monday, but almost warm and slightly sweet, and certainly a harbinger of the coming new season.

Without further ado:

Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley


O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The wing├Ęd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave,until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!


Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
Loose clouds like Earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,
Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre
Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: O hear!


Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,
Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave's intenser day,
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!


If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share
The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O Uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be
The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.


Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened Earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Five perfect stanzas, and the last line, of course, every gardener's dream.

More soon (gardening, I mean, not poetry!).

1 comment:

  1. Good Blog. I have a front
    yard garden that the public
    will see as they walk by.
    I was wondering if there is
    a difference between a back
    yard garden as opposed to a
    front yard. Ready to plant!
    R. Clarke, Chicago