Sunday, October 9, 2016

Especially When The October Wind

The writing shed

OCTOBER 27 will mark Dylan Thomas' 63rd year in heaven, really his 102nd birthday. Though born and raised in Swansea, Wales, he did most of his writing in a shed overlooking the estuary of the River Taf in the small fishing village of Laugharne where he had moved his family during hard times. Two weeks after his 39th birthday, in New York City, he was dead, but in his short life he had written some of the finest poems in the English language. One in a group of birthday poems that include "Poem in October" and "Poem on His Birthday", this piece epitomizes the theme that is central to his poems: "biology as a magical transformation producing unity out of diversity, and the creation of a poetic ritual to celebrate it."

Especially When The October Wind

Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.

Shut, too, in a tower of words, I mark
On the horizon walking like the trees
The wordy shapes of women, and the rows
Of the star-gestured children in the park.
Some let me make you of the vowelled beeches,
Some of the oaken voices, from the roots
Of many a thorny shire tell you notes,
Some let me make you of the water's speeches.

Behind a pot of ferns the wagging clock
Tells me the hour's word, the neural meaning
Flies on the shafted disk, declaims the morning
And tells the windy weather in the cock.
Some let me make you of the meadow's signs;
The signal grass that tells me all I know
Breaks with the wormy winter through the eye.
Some let me tell you of the raven's sins.

Especially when the October wind
(Some let me make you of autumnal spells,
The spider-tongued, and the loud hill of Wales)
With fists of turnips punishes the land,
Some let me make you of the heartless words.
The heart is drained that, spelling in the scurry
Of chemic blood, warned of the coming fury.
By the sea's side hear the dark-vowelled birds.

The interior

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