The wind tapped like a tired man,
And like a host, ‘Come in,’
I boldly answered; entered then
My residence within
A rapid, footless guest,
To offer whom a chair
Were as impossible as hand
A sofa to the air.
No bone had he to bind him,
His speech was like the push
Of numerous humming-birds at once
From a superior bush.
His countenance a billow,
His fingers, if he pass,
Let go a music, as of tunes
Blown tremulous in glass.
He visited, still flitting;
Then, like a timid man,
Again he tapped- ‘t was flurriedly-
And I became alone.
Pam: Is this really an entire poem about a gust of wind in her house?
Brenna: I think it is.
Brenna: And, of course, the wind is a dude.
Brenna: The wind taps like a tired man but then enters rapidly. I guess that’s the gusting? The wind lulls and then blows in fits and starts. That seems like a very March wind. My first question: how does one “hand a sofa” to someone?
Pam: Can I just say that you have got to be lonely as everything to be sad when the wind, your only visitor, leaves? Yes, she’s hitting us over the head with the “he is incorporeal” stuff.
Brenna: I love the description of his speech, though–“like the push of numerous hummingbirds.” And I like the reference to the glass instrument–is it the glass harmonica?
Pam: Oh, good question! I have no idea. I’ve never heard of a glass harmonica. I was thinking of water glasses, how you can fill them halfway and run your fingers around them rim to make them sing. But I imagine that you are closer to the truth! As always, I am wondering why the rhyme changes in the last stanza. “man/alone” disrupts the rather straightforward rhyme scheme in lines 2/4 of the previous stanzas (pass/glass, push/bush).
Brenna: Yes! That’s a glass harmonica! Benjamin Franklin invented it as a mechanized instrument, but it’s basically glasses. Okay, you have got to listen to one before we go any further.I am going to google right now.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQemvyyJ–gI just watched that. It’s gorgeous!!Isn’t it magical?I wonder if that’s what she’s referring to in the poem–it does sound like the wind!It’s gorgeous. I want this instrument in my daily life.Agreed.Back to rhyme scheme? Man/alone disrupts.Sounds about right.
Pam: Yep. It’s the nail in the coffin of “yes, I’m really alone,” which we can tell because the rhyme scheme is different–and there’s emphasis on the man in that particular rhyme scheme, so we’re left wondering about him, too.
Brenna: And “flurriedly.” Um. Emily. That is hard to say. And is it just me, or does “and I became alone” feel like a very weird way to put it? The contrast between the speaker “boldly” admitting the wind early in the poem, and the wind as “timid” near the end is interesting.
Pam: Yes! In the beginning she’s active–she boldly answers–and in the end she becomes alone, passive.
Brenna: Is she becoming like the wind? She isn’t alone until she knows she is.
Pam: I wonder if the conceit of this poem is what might happen if you thought you heard a knock at the door, but opened it to find only wind, and realized that you were lonelier than you’d originally imagined. Someone knocks, I’m excited because I think I have a visitor, I open the door–and it’s just the wind, and now I am definitely lonely.
Brenna: Yes. That seems spot on to me.
Pam: Boom. Poem cracked like a nut.
Brenna: You win! Shall we call it a day?
Pam: Let’s do.