Saturday, August 27, 2011

Storm Warnings

One of my favorite poems of all time, I read "Storm Warnings" for the first time in 11th grade.  I remembered it for years, but couldn't find it again until I wrote to my high school English teacher while I was still in college asking for the writer.  Since then, I read it once every few months.  (The re-reading is, I think, one of the things I love most about poetry.)  Earlier this week, all I wanted was to read bog poems, but as soon as all this craziness with Hurricane Irene began, I immediately thought of "Storm Warnings." 

It's a lovely piece, so I thought I'd share it with you now, to help you weather this storm.  (We're not being evacuated, and in fact, our part of the city should be safe no matter what level hurricane we face, but we're still at the grocery store downloading some good e-books and buying candles and bread.)

Storm Warnings

The glass has been falling all the afternoon,
And knowing better than the instrument
What winds are walking overhead, what zone
Of grey unrest is moving across the land,
I leave the book upon a pillowed chair
And walk from window to closed window, watching
Boughs strain against the sky

And think again, as often when the air
Moves inward toward a silent core of waiting,
How with a single purpose time has traveled
By secret currents of the undiscerned
Into this polar realm. Weather abroad
And weather in the heart alike come on
Regardless of prediction.

Between foreseeing and averting change
Lies all the mastery of elements
Which clocks and weatherglasses cannot alter.
Time in the hand is not control of time,
Nor shattered fragments of an instrument
A proof against the wind; the wind will rise,
We can only close the shutters.

I draw the curtains as the sky goes black
And set a match to candles sheathed in glass
Against the keyhole draught, the insistent whine
Of weather through the unsealed aperture.
This is our sole defense against the season;
These are the things we have learned to do
Who live in troubled regions.
          -Adrienne Rich

1 comment:

  1. in 12 grade english, i had to write a timed essay on this poem! how tortured i felt by that assignment...