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Life, Dust & Wind.

"With Rhythm & Rhyme" - Literature and Music: An ESL lesson about Life, Death and Afterlife, featuring: Kansas, Rupert Brooke, Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare.

In 1973, six guys in a local band from America’s heartland began a journey that surpassed even their own wildest expectations,

by achieving worldwide superstardom...

  • Phil Ehart

  • Rich Williams

  • Billy Greer

  • Ronnie Platt

  • Tom Brislin

  • Joe Deninzon

"Dust in the Wind" was first released on their 1977 album Point of Know Return. The song peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of April 22, 1978, making it Kansas's only single to reach the top ten in the US.


The title of the song is a Bible reference, paraphrasing Ecclesiastes, part of the Hebrew Bible and of the Wisdom literature of the Christian Old Testament

I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded: everything he has accomplished is futile — like chasing the wind![

A meditation on mortality and the inevitability of death, the lyrical theme bears a striking resemblance to the biblical passages Genesis 3:19

("...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.")

and Ecclesiastes 3:20

("All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.").

The phrase "dust in the wind" occurs in Psalms 18:42

("I ground [my enemies] like dust on the face of the wind...").

It is similar to the famous opening lines of the Japanese war epic The Tale of the Heike

("...the mighty fall at last, and they are as dust before the wind.") and from a book of Native American poetry, which includes the line "for all we are is dust in the wind.”


I close my __________

Only for a moment, and the moment's gone

All my _____________

Pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind

All they are is dust in the wind

Same old__________

Just a drop of water in an endless _____________

All we do

Crumbles to the ___________, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind

All we are is dust in the wind

Now don't hang on

Nothing lasts forever but the __________ and _____________

It slips away

And all your ____________won’t another minute buy

Dust in the wind

All we are is dust in the wind

(All we are is dust in the wind)

Dust in the wind

(Everything is dust in the wind)

Everything is dust in the wind

(In the wind)

RUPERT BROOKE (1887-1915, UK)

Rupert Brooke born on 3rd August 1887, the second son of the House Master of School Field, Rugby, and his wife Ruth Cotterill. It was here that he grew up, attending both the preparatory and main schools. His parents moved in established intellectual circles: during summer holidays, the Brooke children played with other kids the including Virginia Woolf on the beach at St. Ives, Cornwall.

In Rugby he began writing poetry and developing the romantic verse style known later as Georgian.


The poem is divided into three parts, each of which is a reflection on a different aspect of life. Find the three parts and give all of them a title:

The afterlife The inevitability of death The fleeting nature of life


  • The poet makes use of metaphors and similes to describe the various aspects of life and death: can you find them?

  • How would you describe this poem? Choose two or more adjectives from the list below and explain

Romantic - Meaningless - Reflective - Epic - Adventurous - Sad

Meditative - Relaxing - Scary - Religious - Silly - Dark

  • Is the poet trying to make a point or convince the reader of anything? Or is he just sharing his thoughts and feelings on the nature of life and death? Explain

  • Is the Poet afraid of death? Or does he see it as a natural part or life? And you? Share your point of view with the class.


Choose the interpretation that you prefer and explain your choice:

1) The poem can be interpreted as a reflection on the human condition. The poet is trying to convey the idea that we are all mortal and that our time on earth is limited. He is also trying to convey the idea that death is a natural part of life and that we should not be afraid of it.

2) The poem can be interpreted as a commentary on the futility of life. The poet seems to be suggesting that life is meaningless and that our actions are ultimately insignificant in the grand scheme of things. He seems to be suggesting that we should not take life too seriously and that we should enjoy the time we have.

3) The poet seems to be suggesting that there is life after death and that our souls continue to exist in a different realm. He seems to be suggesting that death is not the end but rather a new beginning.



This is not one of the poet’s most complicated works. But it is quite interesting nonetheless. Emily Dickinson uses this unique poem to discuss how incredible nature is.

The wind tapped like a tired man, And like a host, "Come in," I boldly answered; entered then My residence within

A rapid, footless guest, To offer whom a chair Were as impossible as hand A sofa to the air.

No bone had he to bind him, His speech was like the push Of numerous humming-birds at once From a superior bush.

His countenance a billow, His fingers, if he pass, Let go a music, as of tunes Blown tremulous in glass.

He visited, still flitting; Then, like a timid man, Again he tapped — 't was flurriedly — And I became alone



  • Dickinson uses similes to describe the wind’s presence, the sounds it makes, and the way it makes her feel. Find them in the first two stanzas.

  • In the third stanza, the speaker begins by describing “him” as having “No Bone” to “bind Him”. These lines continue to describe how the wind is unlike a human being but is still managing to act, at least somewhat, in a similar way. Once more she uses a simile in order to depict what being around the wind is like. Find these part in the third stanza and explain.

  • The fourth stanza also speaks to the way the wind moves and the sounds it makes. Can you find this passage?

  • The poet concludes with lines that describes the wind’s exit. Can you find them?

The poem ends without end-punctuation, suggesting that the wind is off to visit someone else or perhaps even return.

FEAR NO MORE THE HEAT O’ THE SUN (1611) by William Shakespeare

(from Cymbeline)

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,

Nor the furious winter’s rages;

Thou thy worldly task hast done,

Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:

Golden lads and girls all must,

As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;

Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;

Care no more to clothe and eat;

To thee the reed is as the oak:

The scepter, learning, physic, must

All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash,

Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone;

Fear not slander, censure rash;

Thou hast finished joy and moan:

All lovers young, all lovers must

Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!

Nor no witchcraft charm thee!

Ghost unlaid forbear thee!

Nothing ill come near thee!

Quiet consummation have;

And renownèd be thy grave!

  • Find all “old English” words in the lyrics and give them a modern meaning

  • What is this poem/song about?

  • What is the rhyme scheme of the poem?

  • Can you compare this poem with that by Rupert Brooke? Explain

  • Complete this chart using ideas and aspects from the poem:

‘Golden lads’ and ‘Chimney-sweepers’, as well as referring to young boys, carried a second meaning: ‘golden lads’ being Warwickshire dialect for yellow dandelions, and ‘chimney-sweepers’ being another regional term for dandelions, which indeed ‘come to dust’ when you blow on them and are left holding nothing but a stalk.

Riccardo Zambon, Sat. 7th October 2023 - Babylon Lingue, Rovigo

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