After the storm

Blown out

The woods are full
Of the concert hall’s
Sunday-morning silence.

Should have been here last night
When a great Beethoven gale
Made the whole world its instrument:

Only the soft southern fringe
Of the heavyweight hooley
Making trouble over the border

But still a thug,
Broad-shouldered, big-muscled,
Coming in hard with boots and fists:

Snapping off branches like a thoughtless child
And setting the chain-link fencing
Shrieking like a girl.

A proper wind that draws
Half a hemisphere into its lungs
Then rips the hat right off my head,

Shrink-wraps me in my coat,
Turns strolling around the field
To wading thigh-deep through the sea.

I walk among the dazed and breathless trees
Shocked at their shattered limbs
But smiling –

As any woodwind player should –
At seeing the world refashioned
By the moving of the air.

11 thoughts on “After the storm

  1. Hi Nick, this is wonderful! This force of nature like a Beethoven concert (I immediately thought of Ode an die Freude! I think it is the European unofficial hymn which makes it even more dramatic today) and the silence after, the shock and the refashioned world 🙂 This is your best poem til now I think! xx

    • Thank you so much! We played the Ode an die Freude at our concert on Wednesday: even in rehearsals I used to get a little shiver down my back: partly it was just the thrill of playing Beethoven at all, but there’s something very special about that tune, and it was in my mind when I was out in the gale yesterday evening. I really wanted to capture that sense of the silence after it all this morning, so thank you!

  2. Hi Nick,

    I really enjoyed this poem. The imagery you paint through music is breath-taking.
    I could easily imagine myself being whipped around by the storm.
    The vividness of your descriptive imagery is just wonderful. I would quote lines but I fear it would end up being most of the poem!

    I feel a familiarity with the silence after. Many storms where I am start with a growing silence…the birds know! I always enjoy the wait after a storm for the slow re-emergence of birdsong. It’s like a confirmation that all is well again. 🙂

    Thankyou for sharing such a wonderful piece!


    • My pleasure as always, Tikarma. We’d played Beethoven (not very well) at out little Community Orchestra concert the previous evening, and I still had the ‘Ode to Joy’ rolling around in my head when the storm arrived. I guess, as a (not very good) flute player, I just loved the idea of a wind that could get a tune out of the whole world. And you’re right: the birds definitely know when big weather’s on the way – although the crows, swinging and zooming about like kite-surfers, look as if they’re positively enjoying it! Many thanks for your thoughts, as ever.

  3. We had a storm like this just recently. It roared down from the north and the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, and its music was powerful and beautiful and frightening all at the same time. But I will admit that I did not think of comparing the wind’s bellows and shrieking to an orchestra. What a great idea! It brings the world alive in ways that great storms always bring the world alive. And the last two stanzas where the poet walks among a shattered wood and smiles,
    “As any woodwind player should –
    At seeing the world refashioned
    By the moving of the air.”

    • Now THAT sounds like a storm worth hearing! We got off quite lightly here in the south of England last week, but the forecasters reckon we’re gonna get it, and good, in the next few days. What I love about Nature is that the same walk round the same woods this morning inspired a totally different poem (which you’ll be able to read later today!) Thanks so much for such a warm and affirming response.

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