In the poem “Wind,” Ted Hughes describes the experience of a windstorm, using powerful imagery to convey the power and impact of the weather. The poem is in six four line stanzas; the first two being written in the third person, before switching to the first person for the third, fifth and sixth stanza. Throughout the poem, Hughes makes frequent use of metaphoric imagery and personification to get across the idea of weather, and the constituents of weather, wind and rain, being a real, physical force, and to draw the relationship between mankind and nature, and to suggest mankind at the mercy of nature.
The first stanza acts to set the scene. The opening line, starting with “This house” places the poem in a specific physical location, while in the same line the use of the metaphorical imagery of the house being “far out at sea” leads the reader to immediately infer that the house is in unusual circumstances, in this case the extreme weather making it feel as though the house is out in the sea, at the mercy of the elements (as a house cannot physically be built out at sea); the addition of the modifier “all night” reinforces the idea that this is a temporary state lasting just one night.
The phrase “out at sea” is also reminiscent of a ship at sea, which by its very nature is at the mercy of the elements; this reminder reinforces the vulnerability of the house and, by extension, humanity. The poem goes on to introduce the more specific elements of the weather, namely the wind (and to a lesser extend the rain, as demonstrated by the use of the adjective “wet”), making great use of metaphor and personification to turn these elements into tangible objects. The second line contains two onomatopoeic verbs, “crashing” and “booming” to suggest the physical impact the weather has on the physical surroundings. Woods crashing through the darkness” is also a metaphor. Although an individual tree or trees might fall and crash, a wood as a single entity is static and unmoving and cannot physically crash. This verb is used to suggest that the wind is so powerful, it can affect something as solid and unmoving as a wood. The wind is also described as “stampeding,” a verb usually used to refer to the action of horses or other large animals, personifying the wind as being a large animal running wild.
The third line ends with a reference to the window of the house. The window in this line is simply providing a reference point showing the wind is blowing (or “stampeding”) in the field under the window, demonstrating proximity to, but not effect upon, the house. This reference also acts to link and contrast the animal ferocity and powerful wildness of the weather, with a physical man-made object, a house, suggesting the idea of humanity’s vulnerability to the vagaries of nature.
The second stanza sets the scene as a new day, the sunrise simply evoked by the adjectival noun phrase “orange sun. ” The hills are metaphorically described as having ” new places,” and although it is possible that an extremely violent storm could physically transform a landscape, this quality of newness that comes with the sunrise shows what impact the weather can have on how we view our physical surroundings. The wind continues, and is metaphorically described as “wielding” the lightning, again giving a physical ability it does not possess.
The lightning is described, variously, as “blade-light,” metaphorically comparing it to the blade of a sword, implying a dangerous and deadly nature; “luminous”; and bringing out the colours making up the landscape, “black” and not just green but “emerald,” suggesting that the greenery of nature glows under the light like a jewel. The simile “flexing like the lens of a mad eye” also helps personify the weather. The third stanza is written in the third person, which helps personalise the impact of the weather.
The speaker ventures outside, using the transitive verb “scaled,” usually used as a synonym for climbing to indicate an arduous passage, to convey the difficulty of simply walking around his house, such is the ferocity of the wind. The wind (coupled with the adjective “blunt”) is described as metaphorically “denting” his “eyeballs,” imbuing the wind with a visceral, dangerous force. The fields are described as “quivering,” a piece of personification that suggests they are afraid of the wind.
The impact of the wind’s power on a range of things in nature is shown, from something as large and unmoving as the hills, which are metaphorically described as a “tent” “straining its guyrope” (which helps put the winds awesome power in perspective, by comparing a natural landscape feature as solid as a hill with something man-made and relatively fragile); to something as small and frail as magpie casually “flung” away. The wind’s impact on another bird is shown with an alliterative simile “black back gull bent like an iron bar. Comparing a relatively fragile gull to something as strong as an iron bar reinforces the wind’s strength against anything it comes across. The last two stanzas, both written in the third person, move the action inside the house, describing its relationship to the weather outside. This part of the poem starts at the end of the last line of the fourth stanza; the use of this enjambment gives the impression of the lines rushing onward, almost physically embodying the wind.
The terrifying sounds of the wind as heard from the house is described, using the alliterative simile “fine green goblet shattered,” the verb shattered suggesting the potential for violence. The speaker sets a more cosy scene, using two adjectival noun phrases, “deep chairs” and “great fire,” implying safety and comfort. Yet despite this, the wind possesses such an elemental power it is overwhelming, leading the inhabitants to be unable to read (“cannot entertain book”), think (“thought”), or even talk to or focus on each other.
The speaker describes how they can “feel the roots of the house move, but sit on. ” This is a metaphor because, although storms can be powerful enough to destroy houses and damage their foundations, clearly no one would be in a house in such a storm. The ending of the poem acts to suggest more clearly the themes of powerlessness and vulnerability in the face of the elements running through the poem.
The fact the couple continue to sit demonstrates their helplessness in the face of the weather, and their awareness of their helplessness. The window is described as “trembling,” an echo of the personification in the fourth paragraph, suggesting even an inanimate object feels fear in the face of such a power. And, finally, the stones themselves are similarly personified as “crying out” against the wind.