Friday, March 05, 2010

Dylan Thomas

On this day in 1954, Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood was published in England; coming out just four months after his death in New York, it was an immediate best seller. Thomas's lifelong ambivalence towards Wales — "Land of my fathers. My fathers can keep it" — is maintained in the play, his Laugharne becoming the imaginary village of Llareggub, or "bugger-all" backwards.

But it is his poetry that I love and enjoy the most. There are many wonderful poems in his collected works - perhaps the following will suffice for a cold March day as spring approaches:

Holy Spring

Out of a bed of love
When that immortal hospital made one more moove to soothe
The curless counted body,
And ruin and his causes
Over the barbed and shooting sea assumed an army
And swept into our wounds and houses,
I climb to greet the war in which I have no heart but only
That one dark I owe my light,
Call for confessor and wiser mirror but there is none
To glow after the god stoning night
And I am struck as lonely as a holy marker by the sun

Praise that the spring time is all
Gabriel and radiant shrubbery as the morning grows joyful
Out of the woebegone pyre
And the multitude's sultry tear turns cool on the weeping wall,
My arising prodgidal
Sun the father his quiver full of the infants of pure fire,
But blessed be hail and upheaval
That uncalm still it is sure alone to stand and sing
Alone in the husk of man's home
And the mother and toppling house of the holy spring,
If only for a last time.

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