Wind (poem)

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Summary of the poem ‘Wind’ by Subramania Bharathi:

In this poem, the speaker directly addresses the wind, pleading for it to be gentle. The opening lines illustrate the speaker’s desire for the wind to approach softly, without causing harm or disturbance. The speaker asks the wind not to damage the windows, scatter papers, or throw down books. Despite these pleas, the speaker observes that the wind does not heed these requests; it has already caused disorder, tossing books from their shelves and tearing their pages.

The wind in this poem is personified as an independent and strong entity. It is described as “clever,” particularly in the way it exposes vulnerabilities or weaknesses. This is demonstrated through vivid images of frail and crumbling structures—houses, doors, rafters, wood—as well as crumbling bodies, lives, and hearts. These images symbolize not just physical weakness, but emotional and existential weakness as well. The wind, personified as a god, doesn’t discriminate; it winnows and crushes everything, regardless of requests or commands from humans. The wind “winnows,” which means it separates the grain from the chaff, or metaphorically, it distinguishes the strong from the weak.

chaff = the outer layer of the seeds of grain such as wheat, which is separated from the grain before it is eaten

This notion of separation leads to the core theme of the poem: resilience and strength. The wind’s actions serve as a metaphor for the challenges and adversities that people face in life. These adversities test our strength, just as the wind tests the strength of structures and fires. According to the poem, adversities are not necessarily malevolent; they are natural forces that can lead to growth and strength if approached with the right mindset. The speaker encourages us to respond to these challenges proactively: building strong, resilient homes and selves to withstand the wind’s force. The speaker mentions “firming the body” and making the “heart steadfast,” which symbolizes both physical and emotional resilience.

As the poem progresses, the tone shifts from one of helplessness and frustration to one of empowerment and acceptance. Rather than attempting to avoid or combat the wind (which represents life’s challenges), the speaker advocates for adapting to it and growing stronger in its presence. This message is made clear in the contrast between weak fires, which the wind extinguishes, and strong fires, which it helps to “roar and flourish.” Here, fire serves as a metaphor for the human spirit or resolve; the wind, or adversity, extinguishes the spirit of those who are not resilient (the weak fires), while it invigorates and strengthens those who are prepared and steadfast (the strong fires).

The conclusion of the poem is hopeful and optimistic. The speaker suggests that by building physical, emotional, and spiritual resilience, we can transform our relationship with the wind. Instead of viewing it as an enemy or a destructive force, we can come to see it as a friend and ally. The speaker even goes as far as to say that the wind’s “friendship is good” and that “we praise him every day,” emphasizing a deep respect for the wind. This praise is not just for the wind itself, but for the lessons it teaches us and the strength it inspires us to develop.

In simple terms, this poem is a metaphorical exploration of life’s challenges and adversities, represented by the wind, and the human capacity for resilience and growth in the face of those challenges. The poem ultimately encourages us to embrace these challenges, learn from them, and become stronger, rather than attempting to avoid or deny them.

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