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Stanza 1 Summary Page 1
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
O wind, rend open the heat,
Cut apart the heat,
Rend it to tatters.
- Let's begin with the first two words of the poem: "O wind." O, wind! What a nice dramatic start to the poem. We've got an unnamed speaker (we'll just refer her to as a "she" throughout this guide) speaking to something that's not there: the wind.
- This poetic device is an apostrophe. Nope, not that pesky punctuation mark, but a mode of address in which a speaker talks to someone or something that's absent, dead, or inanimate.
- So, what does our speaker say to this wind, now that she's grabbed its attention? She actually demands several things of it. She wants the wind to "rend open the heat," to "cut apart the heat," to "rend it to tatters."
- We're guessing that our speaker is pretty darn hot if she's yelling at the wind to come in and cool things down with such a force. The speaker sounds pretty desperate to get out of this heat.
- And notice the speaker's harsh diction (also known as word choice) here. It's pretty fierce; words like "rend" and "cut" are strong and even violent. She wants the wind to reduce the heat to "tatters"—basically, to shreds, to slivers of nothing.
- The speaker's diction also sounds harsh. There's a lot of consonance involving tough-sounding letters—Rs and Ts are everywhere in this short stanza ("rend," "heat," "cut," "apart," "tatters").
- And not only do sounds repeat a lot in this poem, words such as "rend" and "heat" appear multiple times in just these three short lines. You've probably already noticed that this poem is written in free verse (more on that in "Form and Meter"), but that doesn't meant that H.D. is going all willy-nilly on us. This poem is held together by repeated sounds.
- Before we move on, let's just pause to ask: why is the speaker addressing the wind in the first place? Sure, she's hot, but does she really believe that the wind will act at her will? The poem doesn't answer this question, but let's keep it in mind as we keep on reading.
- Also, you might want to keep this question in mind: is H.D. really talking about the weather here? Is she all hot and bothered about the temperature? Or is possible that the heat is a metaphor for something else? Hmm…