They say only the south wind flattens grass

“…and the sky
Begins to gloom, and o’er the ground
A moan of coming blasts creeps low
And rustles in the crisping grass;”

Winds from the South soothe
and smooth, rolling the tops of grasses
into a benedictory sea; I hear them sigh
with each wave of caress
those stooped stems, nose down to the North

Then with the receding tide of gusts
their heads thrown back, waving skyward.
All astir, shaken awake
the way a cool morning shower
tingles the blood

Do they too see faces in the clouds
change, darkening with a pent passion?
I sense the girdling of West with South.
A frontal fevered fusion of warmth
salt sweat and expectancy, electric
like the touch of your hand,
hastening us to hideaway.

Not only the south wind flattens grass
lovers leave an imprint there, so too cows
before rain – but the sudden summer storm
tempestuous, torrential, gone in a trice
razes grasses to submission
prostrate before a sovereign strength


Epigraph from South-west in the Woodland – George Meredith – a powerful personified poem of of the South-West wind and well worth a read even if not in mode these days.

Title taken form “Surfacing” by Kathleen Jamie as given by Sarah for her Poetics prompt: Travels in the wild



36 Comments on “They say only the south wind flattens grass

  1. This is by far one of the most phenomenal poems I have ever read, Laura! So much to love here especially; “Do they too see faces in the clouds
    change, darkening with a pent passion?” 😍🥰

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  2. I love the movement in this piece. Your words put the reader in the scene you portray.

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  3. Beautifully composed …. this line caught my breath ‘rolling the tops of grasses into a benedictory sea’

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  4. I love the sibilance and assonance of the opening lines, Laura, wonderful wind sounds ‘rolling the tops of grasses / into a benedictory sea’. In fact, they echo through the whole of the first stanza. I also love the thought of those ‘heads thrown back, waving skyward’, felt the cool morning shower tingle my blood, and imagined the sudden summer storm razing grasses to submission – a sovereign strength indeed.

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    • many thanks Kim for pulling the poem together with your feedback – assonance is not conscious but perhaps makes up for my lack of pure rhyme. I wonder too if sibilance is not residue from the days when I had to overcome a slight problem with S

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  5. The image, scent and feel of your words are very vivid. For a moment there I felt like the wind and then the grass…

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  6. Just fabulous, Laura. This is a great title to pick as a set up for pure poetry, which you’ve delivered here with all that alliteration. It reminds me of Old English poetry, especially:
    ‘salt sweat and expectancy, electric
    like the touch of your hand,
    hastening us to hideaway.’
    Electric indeed!

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    • I’m touched by the epithet of Old English as that is what I am! besides that I tend to favour much of the traditional at least in terms of its observation

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      • 😅 I was an Old English student back in the day…now I’m getting to be an Old, English student too haha!

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  7. Yes, the winds are like tides, and the south wind is a Mediterranean summer tide, gentle and warm. The rest are restless and bring more with them often than we’d like.

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  8. This reminds me of summers spent lying in the fields, staring up at the clouds. Just the right dreamy feel.

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  9. Filled with wonderful alliterations and descriptive phrases, this is a pleasure to read and re-read!

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  10. Such a beautiful scene. You took me into the heart of it.

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  11. The sound of the poem makes me think of the way the grass sways… and then you come to the lovers flattening glass, and in the end that torrential rain that I remember having seen the effect of so many times. Stunning poetry.

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  12. Great writing: alliteration, internal rhyming, a swaying meter just like grass. Nicely done.

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