William Howitt

The Wind in a Frolic

The wind one morning sprung up from sleep,

Saying, "Now for a frolic! Now for a leap!

Now for a madcap galloping chase!

I'll make a commotion in every place!"

So it swept with a bustle right through a great town,

Creaking the signs and scattering down

Shutters, and whisking with merciless squalls,

Old women's bonnets and gingerbread stalls.

There never was heard a much lustier shout,

As the apples and oranges tumbled about;

And the urchins that stand with their thievish eyes

Forever on watch, ran off with each prize.

Then away to the fields it went blustering and humming,

And the cattle all wondered whatever was coming.

It pulled by their tails the grave, matronly cows,

And tossed the colts' manes all about their brows,

Till, offended at such a familiar salute,

They all turned their backs and stood silently mute.

So on it went, capering and playing its pranks;

Whistling with reeds on the broad river banks;

Puffing the birds, as they sat on the spray,

Or the traveler grave on the king's highway.

It was not too nice to hustle the bags

Of the beggar, and flutter his dirty rags.

'Twas so bold that it feared not to play its joke

With the doctor's wig, and the gentleman's cloak.

Through the forest it roared, and cried gayly, "Now

You sturdy old oaks, I'll make you bow!"

And it made them bow without more ado,

Or it cracked their great branches through and through.

Then it rushed like a monster o'er cottage and farm,

Striking their inmates with sudden alarm;

And they ran out like bees in a midsummer swarm.

There were dames with their kerchiefs tied over their caps,

To see if their poultry were free from mishaps;

The turkeys they gobbled, the geese screamed aloud,

And the hens crept to roost in a terrified crowd;

There was raising of ladders, and logs laying on,

Where the thatch from the roof threatened soon to be gone.

But the wind had passed on, and had met in a lane

With a schoolboy, who panted and struggled in vain;

For it tossed him, and whirled him, then passed, and he stood

With his hat in a pool, and his shoe in the mud.

Then away went the wind in its holiday glee,

And now it was far on the billowy sea;

And the lordly ships felt its powerful blow,

And the little boats darted to and fro.

But, lo! it was night, and it sunk to rest

On the sea birds' rock in the gleaming west,

Laughing to think, in its frolicsome fun,

How little of mischief it really had done.