Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Poem - 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.

Theodore Roethke

For more Tuesday Poems, please visit the TP hub 
where this week's editor is Jeffrey Paporoa Holman.  

I chose Theodore Roethke's Big Wind for today primarily for the resilience and hope expressed in these six lines. . .

But she rode it out, 
That old rose-house,
She hove into the teeth of it, 

The core and pith of that ugly storm. . .

. . . she sailed until the calm morning,
Carrying her full cargo of roses.'

Our Christchurch community continues to be at the forefront of our thoughts.  Hambani kahle. (Go safely. Go well. Zulu)


Later. . . I'd like to acknowledge Mary McCallum (curator of the Tuesday Poem initiative) today and to thank her for the tenderness, zeal and humanity she brings to our blogging community. Her poem EARTH leaves us with a sense that what's been broken will again become whole... US poets, VesperSparrow and T. Clear endorse this message. I haven't got round all the TPs yet, but know there'll be many additional resonances... 

Together, we find the words we need to make sense of our world? 

Today, it seems to me we're building a composite; a communal poem composed of many parts. Everyone's turned in the same direction and with the best intention; thank you all.  


  1. Go safely, go well, for all who face the storms of whatever magnitude.

  2. One of my favorite Roethke poems, read in the teeth of a gale on the west coast of Ireland!

  3. Thank you, Marylinn - yes, the blessing goes to all who face storms of whatever type or magnitude.

    T. Clear - curl your toes? Hold fast to terra firma.) Your pics do suggest you're experiencing temperamental weather over in Ireland.) Your forty pianos poem got me teary this morning, T. Thank you. x

  4. Thank you Claire. Very generous of you. As you know none of this would have happened without your ideas, energy and support. I agree TP is evolving in unexpected directions... the communal poem of many parts - could we have predicted that? Or the strong bonds that have grown across oceans between writers who have never met?

    And Big Wind is simply marvellous. A fantastic image - the greenhouse with a cargo of roses. Did Roethke ever live in Wellington? Love it.

  5. thank you for the Roethke poem....
    and the lines you chose to emphasize...

  6. thank you so much for looking at the website...
    do I have your e-mail?

  7. Such peril and such coming through; I love this poem — thank you for posting it, Claire.

  8. Great poem, Claire--having experienced very strong winds when I lived at Portobello it brought back my Dunedin experiences ...

  9. Thanks Mary, Pen, Melissa and Helen - happy to find you love this poem, too. It makes me look lovingly at my own, rather wrecked greenhouse - and firm my resolve to replace its broken panes, plant it out. Perhaps it'll want a banksia rose amongst its tomatoes?

    Melissa, my email address is clarab@earthlight.co.nz
    Thank you.