The winds out of the west land blow

A Shropshire Lad

V The winds out of the west land blow Q
V My friends have breathed them there;
V Warm with the blood of lads I know
V Comes east the sighing air. Q
V It fanned their temples, filled their lungs, 5 Q
V Scattered their forelocks free;
V My friends made words of it with tongues
V That talk no more to me.
V Their voices, dying as they fly,
V Thick on the wind are sown; 10
V The names of men blow soundless by,
V My fellows’ and my own.
V Oh lads, at home I heard you plain,
But here your speech is still,
And down the sighing wind in vain 15
You hollo from the hill.
The wind and I, we both were there,
V But neither long abode;
Now through the friendless world we fare
V And sigh upon the road. 20
Key: V: Textual Variation. C: Commentary. Q: Question. Glossary


ASL XXXVIII “The winds out of the west land blow”

Top ▲ Glossary

Line Word Glossary
3 forelock A lock of hair that grows or falls over the forehead (To “tug the forelock” is to acknowledge a superior)
16 hollo Call out
18 abode A short sword worn on a belt


Top ▲ Commentary

Line Commentary
Date: Oct – Dec 1895
meter Four line stanzas of alternating eight and six syllables, (iambic quatrameter / trimeter) rhymed alternately


Top ▲ Variations

Line Text Textual variation
1 D1d1 winds] wind<s> blow] blow<s>
2 D1d1 them] it
3 D1d1 And [?sent] And at my ear the speech it knows
4 D1d1 Fly silent \ [?sighing] [?swelling] / on the air I [?] on the air
5 D1 fanned] <stroked> temples] <faces>
6 D1 And from their <lips> \ mouths / flew free, \ Scattered their forelocks free, /
7 D1 My friends] And they
8 D1 talk] say
9 D2 dying as they fly,] <perished to a sigh>
10 D2 Loose on] <Along> \ Thick on /
Thick on is used in all editions before Nov 1922
10 D2 wind] \ gale gusts /
11 D2 blow soundless] go <silent> \ soundless /
12+ D2 Additional two lines: So far the east is from the west | The wind has lost the word
13 D2 Oh] My
18 D2 abode] could stay
20 D1 sigh] <meet>
20 D2 road] way


Top ▲ Questions

Line Question
1 Why does the poet change from “wind” to “winds” from the draft to the final version?
4 Why is the air described as “sighing“?
5 What is the difference in mood between stroked their faces in the draft and fanned their temples in the final version?
Whole poem What evidence can you find from the poem as a whole that the poet links the winds with words and poetry itself?
Whole poem How does this poem fit with the others that consider the physical and emotion distance away from ‘Shropshire’ for the narrator in this phase of the collection?