‘Weathering’ written by Fleur Adcock is credited to be one of her extraordinary and famous poems. It is believed that Adcock wrote this poem while she was staying in the Lake District in England. Though a native of New Zealand, Adcock was always fascinated by England.
About the Poet
Fleur Adcock is a native of New Zealand but she adopted England as her homeland and made her name after coming to England. She wrote about places, everyday activities, human relationships and most of them were about England. But there was a Maori flavour in some of her poems. Fleur Adcock born of 10th February 1934 grew to be a poet, editor and translator. She worked as assistant librarian at the foreign and Commonwealth in London till 1979. After that freelance writing was her mainstay and she stayed in East Finchley in North London. She held many literary fellowships and this included Northern Arts Literary Fellowship in Newcastle upon Durham and Tyne from 1979 to 1981.
Fleur Adcock speaks about her predicament in this poem. She is thin skinned and her face ‘catches the wind’ and flushes the skin but they don’t really settle. She says that it was a ‘metropolitan vanity’ which was the need to ‘look young forever’. She did not have this vanity because she was no beauty but was ‘pretty enough’ to have a man by her side and to be seen with him. In her own words she was a ‘passable woman’. She was in a place that she loved and a place that did not expect people to have outward beauty. This place looked for the inner beauty or a beauty that shone through because of inner happiness. Her hair might grey, her nails might ‘chip and flake’, her ‘waist thicken’ which were the ways of passing time. Time and passing years are bound to bring the changes. In the last stanza Adcock says that her face is ‘weather beaten’ but that loss is a ‘fair bargain’ for she had spent a year ‘among lakes and vales’. The scenes that she sees outside her window makes her forget the mirror, makes her ‘indifferent’ to mirrors. Her face might have lost its complexion but her soul had found a new complexion.
The poem ‘Weathering’ has twenty seven lines split into three stanzas of unequal lines. The poem is free verse as there is no rhyme scheme. The poem’s opening is provocative with its figurative reference. She says she is ‘thin-skinned’ which means that she is emotionally weak. This use of thin- skinned is not very common but the opposite of that, thick-skinned is used very often to indicate someone who is insensitive. So here the figurative device is used to indicate that she is sensitive yet she gathers enough strength to face the fact that she is ageing with time. The imagery of weathering is brought into the poem. One agent of weathering in the natural world is ‘wind’ and she brings in this word right at the beginning of the poem. Then there is a direct reference to weathering by using the words ‘weather-beaten’. The ageing imagery is strong in these lines
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake,
my waist thicken, and the years
Like most of Adcock’s poems enjambment, the usage of the device where one thought spills over to the next line, is seen all through the poem. Alliteration is a poetic device where the words starting with the same letter is used in a line. ‘Flushes with a flush’ and ‘grow grey’ are examples of alliteration. Anaphora is repetition of words to enhance the lyrical aspect of poet and Adcock has repeated ‘to be seen’ and ‘happy’. Fleur Adcock starts off as a person sensitive to her ageing looks and calls herself a ‘passable woman’. However she ends on the positive note that her soul wears a new complexion, a complexion of happiness.