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28 December 2015

The Wind — tapped like a tired Man —

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, as He passed
Let go a music — as of tunes
Blown tremulous in Glass —

He visited — still flitting —
Then like a timid Man
Again, He tapped — 'twas flurriedly —
And I became alone —
                                              F621 (1863)  J436

This poem always delights me. We see the poet open the door to the wind. No doubt she had been listening to the hums and knocks and tappings outside her door. Once she'd opened it, however, the "footless Guest" came in for a brief visit. And what a guest! Of course he couldn't sit in the company chair any more than air could enjoy settling into the sofa. What was he like, then?
        Well, first he was rapid in a "footless" way – exactly as you would imagine wind swirling around the drawing room. After all, he had no bones to bind him to the ground. As for small talk, he had none, for he had no real speech. Dickinson describes his noise as like the "Push" of hummingbirds in a beautiful flowering bush. Lovely. He also made a breathy, musical sound like that we get when blowing lightly in a bottle.
        After flitting about for a while he tapped again at the door, all in a flutter, and left.

I don't think the poem can be mined for deeper significance. It captures an experience common to many in a way meant to delight.

Just for your delight, here are some more wind poems:
  "The Wind didn't come from the Orchard — today —" (F494)
  "Of all the Sounds despatched abroad" (F334)
  "Of Brussels – it was not –" (F510)
  "An awful Tempest mashed the air –" (F224)


  1. This is wonderful as I love her poems and was looking around the web and found your blog... This is great...Michelle

  2. Such wonderful persistence on such a wonderfully ambitious project! Kudos to you Ms. Kornfeld!

    This poem's deeply resonant notes continue to ring within that numinous space where Ms. Dickinson leaves us suspended, as it were -- in mid-air -- with her final line:

    And I became alone --

    May I suggest that Dickinson's personification of the wind in this poem, though without doubt -- delightful(!) and certainly familiar to many, carries much deeper undercurrents lying beneath that familiar surface, perhaps even touching upon the esoteric, and thus worthy of deeper reflection?

    The key to such esoteric meaning: Below the elementary "poetic device", "figure of speech" surface lies the "The Wind As Allegory."

    "OK... An allegory for what?"

    ...Given Emily's background (numerous sources will support this), there can be little doubt that not only was she well-acquainted with the following words, but more likely these words had been deeply planted within her:

    "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:8

    In this sense, this small gem of a poem finds a much deeper resonance reflecting the Gnostic sense of the Fourth Gospel.

    -- Just a suggestion...

    1. I love it -- thank you! Clearly my St. John chops are lacking. While there is rich potential in reading the whirling visit of the wind as that of life-giving Spirit, I'd be interested in your thoughts on how the wind is both like a 'tired Man' and a 'timid Man'. It's interesting to think of Dickinson playing with these ideas, though. How easy it might be to think of the brushing breeziness of Spirit as timid tapping, of a billowing presence and a music as of glass.