‘Wedding Wind’ by Philip Larkin describes the power of love shared between the speaker and her new husband on the day of, and after, their wedding.
The poem begins with the speaker stating that it is her wedding night. All-day there has been a powerful wind blowing and now it has climaxed into a rather intense storm. Her husband goes out to check on the banging stable door and she marvels over the changes that have occurred in her life. When he comes back she expresses sadness that the cows are distressed and that any creature or human is not as happy as she is.
In the second stanza, the speaker tells of the day after their wedding. Now the two are going about what will be their normal duties to the household. When she is about to feed the chickens she is struck by the fact that the wind, which has come to symbolize their love, is everything. It moves and changes everything it touches. She knows that she is never going to be the same again. She also speaks of the two as happy cattle drinking from a lake of limitless love.
Structure of Wedding Wind
‘Wedding Wind’ by Philip Larkin is a two stanza poem that is separated into one set of ten lines and another set of fourteen. These stanzas do not follow a specific pattern of rhyme or rhythm. They are written in free verse. This does not mean that they lack unity though.
There are moments of structured repetition throughout the poem, as well as instances in which Larkin makes brief use of a metrical pattern. For instance, the first line is iambic tetrameter, which means that it contains four sets of two beats. The first of these is unstressed and the second stressed.
Another technique that Larkin makes use of is enjambement. This occurs when a line ends before the natural stopping point of one’s speech. A good example can be found between lines nine and ten of the first stanza. The reader has to go down to the tenth line in order to find out what the speaker pities others for lacking.
Larkin also uses two different metaphors in the final lines of this piece which are very impactful. The first describes the wind (a symbol of the power of the speaker’s love) as something which her actions turn around. Now everything she does is controlled by something she can’t see or touch. Larkin’s speaker compares herself to a thread with spinning beads. In the last lines, another metaphor compares the speaker and her husband to cattle kneeling beside a lake of water that never dries up. They are drinking from an unlimited source of joy.
You can read the full poem here.
Analysis of Wedding Wind
The wind blew all my wedding-day,
Seeing my face in the twisted candlestick,
In the first lines of ‘Wedding Wind’ the speaker tells the reader very directly that she is going to be discussing her wedding day and the night which followed. There was a wind that “blew” all day and into the night. The wind rose to its peak at night, during the hours the couple likely grew intimate.
In its power, it shook the “stable door” and made it bang “again and again” against the door frame. It is impossible to ignore the sexual connotations within these lines. It is as if the world is reacting to the couple’s consummation of their love.
Eventually, the speaker’s husband has to get up and “shut it.” He goes away from their bed and out into the “rain.” While alone the speaker looks over her situation. She takes in the candlelight and the rain. She also looks towards the “twisted candlestick” and sees her face there.
All of these images are quite strong and represent the emotional tumult one might experience on this important night. It is not entirely clear at this point how the speaker feels about the events that are taking place “today.” All the reader is aware of is that it has been a powerful and moving day.
Yet seeing nothing. When he came back
The happiness I had.
In the next four lines, the speaker goes on to finish a phrase she began in line six. There, she was looking into a candlestick, searching out her own face. She saw herself there, but as it turns out in line seven, she saw “nothing.” Just like the wind, her thoughts and perception are changing.
Finally, her husband comes back. He tells her that while he was outside he discovered that the “horses were restless.” This statement makes the speaker feel quite sad. She doesn’t want anyone to feel poorly, especially when she knows now what it is to feel such happiness.
Now in the day
All’s ravelled under the sun by the wind’s blowing.
Hunting through clouds and forests, thrashing
My apron and the hanging cloths on the line.
In the next lines, the speaker moves on to the morning and the day after her wedding. They have already fallen into their mutual domestic duties. There is a simplicity in these moments that is contrasted with a larger presence, seen through the wind.
The storm that was so powerful the night before is over. Things have “ravelled” or untangled and now the speaker and her husband can take note of anything that has been damaged overnight. With the sun and the ever-present wind still blowing, the world has calmed down somewhat.
The husband has gone out to look at the “floods” that might’ve occurred due to the rainfall and she is going to check on the chickens in the “chicken-run.” She makes it where she is going and then has set the pail down and “stare.” When she looks around her she sees that everything is related to the wind. It is in the “clouds and forests” as well as in the “thrashing of” her “apron.” She can also look to the clothesline and see it in the movement of the laundry.
Can it be borne, this bodying-forth by wind
Now this perpetual morning shares my bed?
The speaker goes on to speak of the wind as something which her actions turn around. It is the joy of her new marriage. Now, everything she does is going to be improved by the reminders of her love. This is seen in the previous lines as she looks around her and notices the wind touching every element of the landscape.
In the next lines, Larkin makes use of a metaphor comparing the love the speaker feels to a thread and her actions to the beads that turn on that thread. Everything is based around this new, all-encompassing emotion.
The speaker asks another question. This time she wonders if she’ll ever be allowed to sleep or rest now that her life has changed so positively. Things will not, she thinks, ever go back to how they were before.
Can even death dry up
Our kneeling as cattle by all-generous waters?
‘Wedding Wind’ concludes with the speaker posing one final question. The joy she feels now and its seemingly endless power, makes her wonder if death can touch her. It seems like it will never “dry up” the “all-generous waters” of her love. She and her husband “kneel…as cattle” do by these “delighted lakes” where there is an endless supply of happiness.