Poem introduction

One called 'Big Wind' - a grisly(?) one this, getting into the corn(?) routines at the moment in spite of all my... This appeared in a magazine with just 'Big Wind' and then the typographer put in almost equally big words 'Theodore Roethke' not 'by Theo...' (laughter).

The Big Wind

The Big Wind

Where were the greenhouses going,
Lunging into the lashing
Wind driving water
So far down the river
All the faucets stopped? -
So we drained the manure-machine
For the steam plant,
Pumping the stale mixture
Into the rusty boilers,
Watching the pressure gauge
Waver over to red,
As the seams hissed
And the live steam
Drove to the far
End of the rose-house,
Where the worst wind was,
Creaking the cypress window-frames,
Cracking so much thin glass
We stayed all night,
Stuffing the holes with burlap;
But she rode it out,
That old rose-house,
She hove into the teeth of it,
The core and pith of that ugly storm,
Ploughing with her stiff prow,
Bucking into the wind-waves
That broke over the whole of her,
Flailing her sides with spray,
Flinging long strings of wet across the roof-top,
Finally veering, wearing themselves out, merely
Whistling thinly under the wind-vents;
She sailed until the calm morning,
Carrying her full cargo of roses.


'Big Wind', copyright 1947 by the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, from The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (Doubleday, 1966/Faber, 1968), used by permission of the publisher, Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. The recording was made in the 1950s at the YMHA Poetry Center, New York, NY, and is used by permission of the Library of Congress, Washington DC, and is used with permission of the Library of Congress.

Sponsor this poem

Would you like to sponsor this poem? Find out how here.

Recordings

Books by Theodore Roethke