Jan 29 Philip Larkin: Wedding-Wind


The wind blew all my wedding-day,
And my wedding-night was the night of the high wind;
And a stable door was banging, again and again,
That he must go and shut it, leaving me
Stupid in candlelight, hearing rain,
Seeing my face in the twisted candlestick,
Yet seeing nothing. When he came back
He said the horses were restless, and I was sad
That any man or beast that night should lack
The happiness I had.

Now in the day
All’s ravelled under the sun by the wind’s blowing.
He has gone to look at the floods, and I
Carry a chipped pail to the chicken-run,
Set it down, and stare. All is the wind
Hunting through clouds and forests, thrashing
My apron and the hanging cloths on the line.

Can it be borne, this bodying-forth by wind
Of joy my actions turn on, like a thread
Carrying beads? Shall I be let to sleep
Now this perpetual morning shares my bed?
Can even death dry up
These new delighted lakes, conclude
Our kneeling as cattle by all-generous waters?

riders on the storm

In the wake of violence is peace and joy. When I read the line “kneeling as cattle by all-generous waters” I thought of the scene of Jesus in the manger. I think modern poetry is like that – it’s more about what you take away from it, then what is actually there. The violence of the storm could be the violence of labor giving away to the joyous morning and the birth of the King of Kings (if you’re a believer of that sort of thing).

Perhaps the violence of the storm could have been the violence of love making. Is there a bit of guilt in enjoying sex? Or could there be a larger context at play? We who live a simple, easy life while in the outside world there is much violence and injustice that others suffer. Perhaps the wife’s guilt that the innocent animals suffer the storm while she enjoys her honeymoon could be equated to feeling sad that there must be suffering while she experiences joy – and yet life must go on.

And in the morning the cleaning up must be done, the chipped pail reminds us that our lives are imperfect as well.

There are perhaps a thousand other ways to look at this poem, I have only suggested a few.

I would like to reflect on my own stormy wedding experience. My cousins got married in Mexico (though the wife was not yet my cousin) and the sun was warm and generous that morning when the ceremony began large rain drops fell. We went inside the the thatched hut that was also the restaurant for the reception and went through the careful steps of an ancient Mayan ceremony.

Rattles were rattled and strong incense burned, there was a shaman and a priestess and we bowed to the East, the West, the North and the South. When the music start, we began our grand cabal with dancing and hooting and hollering and drunken revelry (and there was plenty of tequila pouring). We feasted on the best food, chopping up chicken and slurping down oysters. And the storm outside whipped and howled alongside our wolfish baying selves.

In the morning the next day, the sun was hot and the sand was white and dry and we laid about like dead fish left up on the shore and groaned as if we were dying.

This poem reminds me of our night of drunken revelry, yet we celebrated with a bestial celebratory temperament filled with wild joy and the next day we simply tried to just walk it off.


About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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