Know him for a white man.
He walks sideways into wind
allowing the left of him
to forget what the right
knows as cold. His ears
turn into death what
his eyes can’t see. All day
he walks away from the sun
passing into storm. Do not
mistake him for the howl you hear
or the track you think you
follow. Finding a white man
in snow is to look for the dead.
He has been burned by the wind.
He has left too much
flesh on winter’s white metal
to leave his colour as a sign.
Cold white. Cold flesh. He leans
into wind sideways; kills without
mercy anything to the left of him
coming like madness in the snow.
Patrick Lane, "Passing into Storm", from The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane. Copyright © 2011 by Patrick Lane. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Source: The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane (Harbour Publishing, 2011)
What are some of the words you would use to describe the effect of this poem on a reader?
If you were making a film of this poem, what would be the sounds effects you’d use? Would you shoot it in colour or in black and white? Why?
Most would want to walk away from a storm rather than passing into it. Why does the man in the poem choose the latter?
Why is the opening line so powerful? What does it imply?
- How could you perform this poem so that readers would feel its chill?