A Song for Simeon
Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.
was construed by Computer Science Prof. Shai Simonson, and Math Prof. Fernando Gouvea, in "How to Read Mathematics".
Elliot assumes that the reader will read slowly and pay attention to the images: he juxtaposes dust and memory, relates old age to winter, compares waiting for death with a feather on the back of the hand, etc. He assumes that the reader will recognize this as poetry; in a way, he's assuming that the reader is familiar with a whole poetic tradition. The reader is supposed to notice that alternate lines rhyme, but that the others do not, and so on.
I am unversed in poetry. I have never read anything by T.S. Eliot before!
How is "waiting for the death wind, Like a feather on the back of my hand"? To wit, how on earth is "waiting for the death" related to "a feather on the back of my hand" at all?