17 October 2012


Hedgerow and field - Brecks Lane near Barrow Hill, Derbyshire
Poem in October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.

by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)


  1. I am not a poem (ish) person but that was thoughtful!
    now all these poems YP
    I hope you are not going ALL Brian Sewell ON us?
    I dont want to lose that spit and Male version of Downton's Mrs Patmore

    Oh, Earl John Gray
    What can I say?
    I'm happy that you passed this way
    To make a comment on my post
    While sipping tea and munching toast
    The poem was by a Swansea lad
    Born in the same year as my dad
    Oh Dylan Thomas was his name
    His poems earned him worldwide fame
    He died in Nineteen Fifty Three
    The year in which I came to be
    So Dearest Earl please do not hide
    The poetry you keep inside
    Recite it at the Eisteddfod
    And folk will shout - "You clever sod!"

  3. Maybe Thomas should have stuck with villanelles. This poem is almost as opaque as some of E.E. Cumming's poems. I just wish it communicated a little more clearly. It's beautiful, but I don't understand it. I'm sorry if I am sounding like a philistine.

  4. YP, as your other readers commented, the 'poem' was a bit difficult to understand as poetry but as I read its message it brought thoughts of my youth back. Thanks - Dave

  5. DAVE I think you have approached the poem in the right spirit. It has a deliberately "obtuse" character like memory itself. This poem is not a mind puzzle to be unravelled. It is meant to make you "feel" a mood.
    RHYMES WITH PLAGUE See above...but pleased you made the effort to get to grips with it. Perhaps you tried too hard instead of letting the words wash over you like a tide.

  6. I got as far as "And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall " and I thought 'this sounds like Thomas.

    And it was. Beautiful. I loved it.


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