Waking to the wind gusting the trees outside the window, I thought of Christina Rossetti.

The wind is like a great spirit. It is not just imagination that it stirs something in us. In children too. They never sit calmly in school when a wind gets up.

The Rossetti lines in my mind were: ‘Who has seen the wind? / Neither you nor I’ and the last line of the stanza ‘The wind is passing by’. I had invented line three and somehow arrived at ‘But when the light moves in the leaves’. The poet’s original line is much better ‘But when the trees bow down their heads’.

On Christina Rossetti’s Wikipedia page it says she she is ‘perhaps best known for her long poem ‘Goblin Market’, her love poem ‘Remember’ and for the words of the carol ‘In the bleak midwinter’.  But I think ‘Birthday’ (‘My heart is like a singing bird’) must rank high among remembered poems.  And I just found ‘Uphill’ which I had forgotten I knew and loved, but now I know it certainly influenced at least one poem I wrote myself. Then there is ‘Twice’ which I had also forgotten but shouldn’t have. I must go back to Christina Rossetti, though perhaps a ‘Selected’ is best. In the complete poems you get lost somewhere in misery and religiosity – or at least I did when I was last immersed.

But she has done that magic thing that some poets do – planted a snatch of lines I can’t and won't forget: the earworm. Enough always to bring me back. I will be saying this poem inside my head all day, like it or lump it. Thank you, you compilers of so-called 'children's poems', in which I must first have found this lyric by Christina Rossetti. Without you, I doubt I would be writing this blog right now. Or remembering the lines that lead me to other lines that lead me everywhere I happily go.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

 

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