THE WIND begun to rock the grass
With threatening tunes and low,—
He flung a menace at the earth,
A menace at the sky.
The leaves unhooked themselves from trees 5
And started all abroad;
The dust did scoop itself like hands
And throw away the road.
The wagons quickened on the streets,
The thunder hurried slow; 10
The lightning showed a yellow beak,
And then a livid claw.
The birds put up the bars to nests,
The cattle fled to barns;
There came one drop of giant rain, 15
And then, as if the hands
That held the dams had parted hold,
The waters wrecked the sky,
But overlooked my father’s house,
Just quartering a tree.
Okay, so not so much a Halloween poem, but there is definitely an element of the spooky and supernatural. It’s difficult to think about thunderstorms today–the sky is October blue, the sun pouring down as if to make up for the fact that it will be departing earlier tonight.
It’s definitely an autumn poem, too, with the leaves blowing from the trees. Everything in the poem is personified, from the wind to the leaves to the birds. All of nature is alive, inhabited, acting and reacting.
The poem ends with the quartering of a tree by lightning, and this does feel like a very Halloween-y image–the old cleft tree, scarred by storm. Though Dickinson does not describe the aftermath, the reader can see the tree, and this is the image with which she leaves us.