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?

by Philip Larkin

Other poems of LARKIN (93)

Comments (1)

The poem opens with a stark, seemingly distressed, statement: ‘The wind blew all my wedding-day.’, spoken by the persona who is a female peasant just entering the matrimonial bond. In the second line this shock is mitigated with the qualifying statement that wind and wedding are not only related alliteratively but also symbolically. Symbol and reality are inverted again when we have the repetitive banging and the inevitable mildly heroic male duty of having to go and shut the gate. At once, the relief of perceiving marriage as a positive force is threatened by the lurking, slightly sinister, doubt at being left ‘stupid in candlelight, hearing rain’. Seeing her distorted face or her face distorted in the “twisted candlelight” emphasizes the macabre, albeit ephemeral, effect suggesting fear and danger. The underlying anxiety in the poem is that this relatively euphoric sensation may, after all, only be short-lived. This feeling is revealed subtly at the end of the stanza when she says” and I was sad / That any man or beast that night should lack/ The happiness I had’. Relief comes again in the second stanza when the dark storm subsides. The effects are still to be seen around. The sexual undertones of the wind’s ravelling and the waters’ flooding are fortified by the phrase “bodying-forth…of joy’. This further transforms into the continuous threading of beads, in my opinion, signifying the various chores that make up our life. Some critics associate the beads with rosary beads and thus with prayer. I find this quite unconvincing especially since the rosary is associated mostly with Catholic Religion and exposure to this denomination came more strongly later through the relationship with Maeve Brennan. The elation here is so great that she asks three rhetorical questions implying that the joy was so great that it transcends everything and nothing can stop it. She is filled with gratitude for ‘all the generous waters’ (kneeling as cattle) . But like the cattle and like all that is associated with the land and farming, her love and joy are subject to the whims and fancies of capricious nature and therefore are veering on the edge of vulnerability.