Whose Tongue is the Wind’s Tongue?1

By | 1 December 2011

A gin-damned drunkard’s wan half-witted face 2
stared with piteous recognition in fixed eyes. 3
The winds from the west all breathed a story; 4
I couldn’t understand a word. 5
How long I stayed alone with the corpse I never knew. 6


What is that noise now? What is the wind doing? 7
They pursued it with forks and hope; 8
the jaws that bite, the claws that catch, 9
the secrets and the signals and the system. 10
Is it a banished soul? 11


Essence of winter sleep is on the night. 12
I sit and listen to the wind’s 13
laughter out of dead bellies. 14

1The title is from Agernon Charles Swinburne’s “Hertha.” I added capitalization.
2 from Gilbert Chesterton’s “The Mirror of Madmen.”
3 from Wilfred Owen’s “Strange Meeting.” I removed a line break.
4 from Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s “The Lost Garden.” I added a capital and the semi-colon.
5 from Edwin C. Ranck’s “The Epic of the Hog.” I added the period.
6 from Christina G. Rossetti’s “Under the Rose.” I removed a line break and capital,
     and added the period.
7 from T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.”
8 from Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark.”
9 from Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.” I removed a capital and an exclamation mark,
     and added a comma.
10 from Carl Sandburg’s “Our Prayer of Thanks.” I added the period.
11 from Bliss Carman’s “Behind the Arras.” I added the question mark.
12 from Robert Frost’s “After Apple-Picking.” I added the period.
13 from Joanna Baillie’s “Night Scenes of Other Times. I added the ‘s.
14 from Ezra Pound’s “Ode Pour L’Election de Son Sepulchre.”

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