1

Against the stone breakwater,
Only an ominous lapping,
While the wind whines overhead,
Coming down from the mountain,
Whistling between the arbors, the winding terraces;
A thin whine of wires, a rattling and flapping of leaves,
And the small street-lamp swinging and slamming against
the lamp pole.
Where have the people gone?
There is one light on the mountain.

2

Along the sea-wall, a steady sloshing of the swell,
The waves not yet high, but even,
Coming closer and closer upon each other;
A fine fume of rain driving in from the sea,
Riddling the sand, like a wide spray of buckshot,
The wind from the sea and the wind from the mountain contending,
Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upward into the darkness.
A time to go home!--
And a child's dirty shift billows upward out of an alley,
A cat runs from the wind as we do,
Between the whitening trees, up Santa Lucia,
Where the heavy door unlocks,
And our breath comes more easy,--
Then a crack of thunder, and the black rain runs over us, over
The flat-roofed houses, coming down in gusts, beating
The walls, the slatted windows, driving
The last watcher indoors, moving the cardplayers closer
To their cards, their anisette.

3

We creep to our bed, and its straw mattress.
We wait; we listen.
The storm lulls off, then redoubles,
Bending the trees half-way down to the ground,
Shaking loose the last wizened oranges in the orchard,
Flattening the limber carnations.
A spider eases himself down from a swaying light-bulb,
Running over the coverlet, down under the iron bedstead.
The bulb goes on and off, weakly.
Water roars into the cistern.
We lie closer on the gritty pillow,
Breathing heavily, hoping--
For the great last leap of the wave over the breakwater,
The flat boom on the beach of the towering sea-swell,
The sudden shudder as the jutting sea-cliff collapses,
And the hurricane drives the dead straw into the living pine-tree.
 
From The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke by Theodore Roethke, published by Anchor Books. © 1975 by Theodore Roethke. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

I Am! Said the Lamb [excerpt] by Theodore Roethke
I had a Donkey, that was all right,
My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke
The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy
Pickle Belt by Theodore Roethke
The fruit rolled by all day.


Further Reading

Poems for Anniversaries
A Man Meets a Woman in the Street
by Randall Jarrell
Couple Sharing a Peach
by Molly Peacock
Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri
by Mona Van Duyn
Francesco and Clare
by David St. John
I Married You
by Linda Pastan
Let Me Disappear
by Ray Gonzalez
Looking Back in My Eighty-First Year
by Maxine Kumin
Man and Wife
by Robert Lowell
My Wife
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Orpheus
by Robert Kelly
The Anniversary
by John Donne
The Anniversary
by Elaine Terranova
The Elephant is Slow to Mate
by D.H. Lawrence
The Sympathies of the Long Married
by Robert Bly
To My Dear and Loving Husband
by Anne Bradstreet
Poems about Storms
A Crosstown Breeze
by Henry Taylor
Bermudas
by Andrew Marvell
History of Hurricanes
by Teresa Cader
Low Barometer
by Robert Bridges
Now Winter Nights Enlarge
by Thomas Campion
Of Politics, & Art
by Norman Dubie
Radar Data #12
by Lytton Smith
Sleet
by Alan Shapiro
Stones in the Air
by Anna Journey
Storm Ending
by Jean Toomer
The Day Duke Raised: May 24th, 1974
by Quincy Troupe
The Snow Storm
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
White Water
by John Montague
Poems About Weather
(Soma)tic 5: Storm SOAKED Bread
by CAConrad
Becoming Weather, 21
by Chris Martin
Snow-Bound [The sun that brief December day]
by John Greenleaf Whittier
The Book of a Thousand Eyes [Rain, queen]
by Lyn Hejinian
A Line-storm Song
by Robert Frost
A Winter Without Snow
by J. D. McClatchy
An Octave Above Thunder
by Carol Muske-Dukes
Aubade: Some Peaches, After Storm
by Carl Phillips
Dispatches from Devereux Slough
by Mark Jarman
Even the Rain
by Agha Shahid Ali
Flood
by Miyazawa Kenji
Flood
by Eliza Griswold
Great Sleeps I Have Known
by Robin Becker
History of Hurricanes
by Teresa Cader
Identity Crisis
by F. D. Reeve
In April
by James Hearst
Into Bad Weather Bounding
by Bin Ramke
It Was Raining In Delft
by Peter Gizzi
L’Avenir est Quelque Chose
by Dobby Gibson
November
by William Cullen Bryant
Now Winter Nights Enlarge
by Thomas Campion
Ode to the West Wind
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Passage I
by Maureen N. McLane
Problems with Hurricanes
by Victor Hernández Cruz
Purism
by Vona Groarke
Radar Data #12
by Lytton Smith
Rain
by Claribel Alegría
Shells
by Elaine Terranova
Sitting Outside
by W. D. Snodgrass
Sleet
by Alan Shapiro
Snow
by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Clouded Morning
by Jones Very
The Hurricane
by William Carlos Williams
The Snow Storm
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Woman and the Flame
by Aimé Césaire
Today A Rainstorm Caught Me
by Matt Hart
Who Has Seen the Wind?
by Christina Rossetti