Wind and Unkind

a_right_easterly_wind_is_very_unkind_mousepad-r9359f1c04c17012f513c00ffb0cb9003_x74vi_8byvr_324 Hi All,

Following our lovely little discussion last evening about Shakespeare’s use of rhyme in Blow, blow, though winter wind, I’ve done a little bit of Googling.  The bottom line seems to be that in Shakespeare’s time the word wind was still pronounced with a long ‘i’ vowel (probably spelled wynde) a hangover from Middle English.

According to THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE by Charles Barber, Joan Beal, Philip Shaw:
“The word wind ‘moving air’ probably has its short vowel by analogy with words like windmill, where the third consonant prevented the lengthening from taking place.  In Middle English, wind normally had a long vowel, and as late as Shakespeare’s time it rhymed with kind: thus when Shakespeare writes, ‘Blow, blow, though winter wind/Thou art not so unkind’ he is not using an eye rhyme, but a genuine rhyme that no longer exists today.”Picture 009

There are modern days qualms about this, insisting that there is no reason for us to continue an archaic usage and simply treat this as a sight rhyme.

According to The Exciting World of Creative Writing by Ruth McDaniel
“Shakespeare’s uses of ‘wind’ and ‘unkind’ is an example of a sight rhyme.”

Both I find intriguing but let’s put it to a vote just for the sake of democracy.

This entry was posted in Notes to All, Poll. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Wind and Unkind

  1. me says:

    Who are we to argue with him wot was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, known as the bath place of our national bird… ?

  2. I will graciously refrain from making the obvious joke … but for me — as you well know — that is NOT easy.

  3. Edmund Bewley says:

    The OED is unequivocal on this. The pronounciation of wind before the 18th Century was ‘waind’ to rhyme with behind, find, etc. Then in polite speech it became ‘wind’, probably to align with the derivatives windmill, windy, etc. It is still pronounced ‘waind’ in normal poetic context, though some later poets have used it as ‘wind’. The paucity of appropriate rhymes and the ‘thinness’ of the sound mean that this is the exception. So ‘waind’ and ‘kaind’ are the correct pronunciations. Shakespeare wrote foe the ear not the eye.

Leave a Reply