To-Day, This Insect – Dylan Thomas

To-day, this insect, and the world I breathe,
Now that my symbols have outelbowed space,
Time at the city spectacles, and half
The dear, daft time I take to nudge the sentence,
In trust and tale I have divided sense,
Slapped down the guillotine, the blood-red double
Of head and tail made witnesses to this
Murder of Eden and green genesis.

The insect certain is the plague of fables.

This story’s monster has a serpent caul,
Blind in the coil scrams round the blazing outline,
Measures his own length on the garden wall
And breaks his shell in the last shocked beginning;
A crocodile before the chrysalis,
Before the fall from love the flying heartbone,
Winged like a sabbath ass this children’s piece
Uncredited blows Jericho on Eden.

The insect fable is the certain promise.

Death: death of Hamlet and the nightmare madmen,
An air-drawn windmill on a wooden horse,
John’s beast, Job’s patience, and the fibs of vision,
Greek in the Irish sea the ageless voice:
‘Adam I love, my madmen’s love is endless,
No tell-tale lover has an end more certain,
All legends’ sweethearts on a tree of stories,
My cross of tales behind the fabulous curtain.’

This Bread I Break – Dylan Thomas

This bread I break was once the oat,
This wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day or wine at night
Laid the crops low, broke the grape’s joy.

Once in this time wine the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind;
Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.

This flesh you break, this blood you let
Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape
Born of the sensual root and sap;
My wine you drink, my bread you snap.

Twenty Four Years – Dylan Thomas

Twenty-four years remind the tears of my eyes.
(Bury the dead for fear that they walk to the grave in labour.)
In the groin of the natural doorway I crouched like a tailor
Sewing a shroud for a journey
By the light of the meat-eating sun.
Dressed to die, the sensual strut begun,
With my red veins full of money,
In the final direction of the elementary town
I advance as long as forever is.

Being But Men – Dylan Thomas

Being but men, we walked into the trees
Afraid, letting our syllables be soft
For fear of waking the rooks,
For fear of coming
Noiselessly into a world of wings and cries.

If we were children we might climb,
Catch the rooks sleeping, and break no twig,
And, after the soft ascent,
Thrust out our heads above the branches
To wonder at the unfailing stars.

Out of confusion, as the way is,
And the wonder, that man knows,
Out of the chaos would come bliss.

That, then, is loveliness, we said,
Children in wonder watching the stars,
Is the aim and the end.

Being but men, we walked into the trees.

Unluckily for a Death – Dylan Thomas 

Unluckily for a death

Waiting with phoenix under

The pyre yet to be lighted of my sins and days,

And for the woman in shades

Saint carved and sensual among the scudding

Dead and gone, dedicate forever to my self

Though the brawl of the kiss has not occurred

On the clay cold mouth, on the fire

Branded forehead, that could bind

Her constant, nor the winds of love broken wide

To the wind the choir and cloister

Of the wintry nunnery of the order of lust

Beneath my life, that sighs for the seducer’s coming

In the sun strokes of summer,
Loving on this sea banged guilt

My holy lucky body

Under the cloud against love is caught and held and kissed

In the mill of the midst

Of the descending day, the dark our folly,

Cut to the still star in the order of the quick

But blessed by such heroic hosts in your every

Inch and glance that the wound

Is certain god, and the ceremony of souls

Is celebrated there, and communion between suns.

Never shall my self chant

About the saint in shades while the endless breviary

Turns of your prayed flesh, nor shall I shoo the bird below me:

The death biding two lie lonely.
I see the tigron in tears

In the androgynous dark,

His striped and noon maned tribe striding to holocaust,

The she mules bear their minotaurs,

The duck-billed platypus broody in a milk of birds.

I see the wanting nun saint carved in a garb

Of shades, symbol of desire beyond my hours

And guilts, great crotch and giant

Continence. I see the unfired phoenix, herald

And heaven crier, arrow now of aspiring

And the renouncing of islands.

All love but for the full assemblage in flower

Of the living flesh is monstrous or immortal,

And the grave its daughters.
Love, my fate got luckily,

Teaches with no telling

That the phoenix’ bid for heaven and the desire after

Death in the carved nunnery

Both shall fail if I bow not to your blessing

Nor walk in the cool of your mortal garden

With immortality at my side like Christ the sky.

This I know from the native

Tongue of your translating eyes. The young stars told me,

Hurling into beginning like Christ the child.

Lucklessly she must lie patient

And the vaulting bird be still. O my true love, hold me.

In your every inch and glance is the globe of genesis spun,

And the living earth your sons. 

Twenty Four Years – Dylan Thomas

Twenty-four years remind the tears of my eyes.

(Bury the dead for fear that they walk to the grave in labour.)

In the groin of the natural doorway I crouched like a tailor

Sewing a shroud for a journey

By the light of the meat-eating sun.

Dressed to die, the sensual strut begun,

With my red veins full of money,

In the final direction of the elementary town

I advance as long as forever is. 

How Shall My Animal – Dylan Thomas

How shall my animal

Whose wizard shape I trace in the cavernous skull,

Vessel of abscesses and exultation’s shell,

Endure burial under the spelling wall,

The invoked, shrouding veil at the cap of the face,

Who should be furious,

Drunk as a vineyard snail, flailed like an octopus,

Roaring, crawling, quarrel

With the outside weathers,

The natural circle of the discovered skies

Draw down to its weird eyes?
How shall it magnetize,

Towards the studded male in a bent, midnight blaze

That melts the lionhead’s heel and horseshoe of the heart

A brute land in the cool top of the country days

To trot with a loud mate the haybeds of a mile,

Love and labour and kill

In quick, sweet, cruel light till the locked ground sprout

The black, burst sea rejoice,

The bowels turn turtle,

Claw of the crabbed veins squeeze from each red particle

The parched and raging voice?
Fishermen of mermen

Creep and harp on the tide, sinking their charmed, bent pin

With bridebait of gold bread, I with a living skein,

Tongue and ear in the thread, angle the temple-bound

Curl-locked and animal cavepools of spells and bone,

Trace out a tentacle,

Nailed with an open eye, in the bowl of wounds and weed

To clasp my fury on ground

And clap its great blood down;

Never shall beast be born to atlas the few seas

Or poise the day on a horn.
Sigh long, clay cold, lie shorn,

Cast high, stunned on gilled stone; sly scissors ground in frost

Clack through the thicket of strength, love hewn in pillars drops

With carved bird, saint, and suns the wrackspiked maiden mouth

Lops, as a bush plumed with flames, the rant of the fierce eye,

Clips short the gesture of breath.

Die in red feathers when the flying heaven’s cut,

And roll with the knocked earth:

Lie dry, rest robbed, my beast.

You have kicked from a dark den, leaped up the whinnying light,

And dug your grave in my breast. 

Holy Spring – Dylan Thomas


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. 

Should Lanterns Shine – Dylan Thomas

Should lanterns shine, the holy face,

Caught in an octagon of unaccustomed light,

Would wither up, an any boy of love

Look twice before he fell from grace.

The features in their private dark

Are formed of flesh, but let the false day come

And from her lips the faded pigments fall,

The mummy cloths expose an ancient breast.
I have been told to reason by the heart,

But heart, like head, leads helplessly;

I have been told to reason by the pulse,

And, when it quickens, alter the actions’ pace

Till field and roof lie level and the same

So fast I move defying time, the quiet gentleman

Whose beard wags in Egyptian wind.
I have heard may years of telling,

And many years should see some change.
The ball I threw while playing in the park

Has not yet reached the ground. 

Poem In October – Dylan Thomas

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. 

Once Below A Time – Dylan Thomas

Once below a time,

When my pinned-around-the-spirit

Cut-to-measure flesh bit,

Suit for a serial sum

On the first of each hardship,

My paid-for slaved-for own too late

In love torn breeches and blistered jacket

On the snapping rims of the ashpit,

In grottoes I worked with birds,

Spiked with a mastiff collar,

Tasselled in cellar and snipping shop

Or decked on a cloud swallower,
Then swift from a bursting sea with bottlecork boats

And out-of-perspective sailors,

In common clay clothes disguised as scales,

As a he-god’s paddling water skirts,

I astounded the sitting tailors,

I set back the clock faced tailors,

Then, bushily swanked in bear wig and tails,

Hopping hot leaved and feathered

From the kangaroo foot of the earth,

From the chill, silent centre

Trailing the frost bitten cloth,

Up through the lubber crust of Wales

I rocketed to astonish

The flashing needle rock of squatters,

The criers of Shabby and Shorten,

The famous stitch droppers.

My silly suit, hardly yet suffered for,

Around some coffin carrying

Birdman or told ghost I hung.

And the owl hood, the heel hider,

Claw fold and hole for the rotten

Head, deceived, I believed, my maker,
The cloud perched tailors’ master with nerves for cotton.

On the old seas from stories, thrashing my wings,

Combing with antlers, Columbus on fire,

I was pierced by the idol tailor’s eyes,

Glared through shark mask and navigating head,

Cold Nansen’s beak on a boat full of gongs,
To the boy of common thread,

The bright pretender, the ridiculous sea dandy

With dry flesh and earth for adorning and bed.

It was sweet to drown in the readymade handy water

With my cherry capped dangler green as seaweed

Summoning a child’s voice from a webfoot stone,

Never never oh never to regret the bugle I wore

On my cleaving arm as I blasted in a wave.

Now shown and mostly bare I would lie down,

Lie down, lie down and live

As quiet as a bone. 

On the Marriage of a Virgin – Dylan Thomas

Waking alone in a multitude of loves when morning’s light

Surprised in the opening of her nightlong eyes

His golden yesterday asleep upon the iris

And this day’s sun leapt up the sky out of her thighs

Was miraculous virginity old as loaves and fishes,

Though the moment of a miracle is unending lightning

And the shipyards of Galilee’s footprints hide a navy of doves.
No longer will the vibrations of the sun desire on

Her deepsea pillow where once she married alone,

Her heart all ears and eyes, lips catching the avalanche

Of the golden ghost who ringed with his streams her mercury bone,

Who under the lids of her windows hoisted his golden luggage,

For a man sleeps where fire leapt down and she learns through his arm

That other sun, the jealous coursing of the unrivalled blood. 

Poem – My World is Pyramid – Dylan Thomas

Half of the fellow father as he doubles 

His sea-sucked Adam in the hollow hulk, 

Half of the fellow mother as she dabbles 

To-morrow’s diver in her horny milk, 

Bisected shadows on the thunder’s bone 

Bolt for the salt unborn. 
The fellow half was frozen as it bubbled 

Corrosive spring out of the iceberg’s crop, 

The fellow seed and shadow as it babbled 

The swing of milk was tufted in the pap, 

For half of love was planted in the lost, 

And the unplanted ghost. 
The broken halves are fellowed in a cripple, 

The crutch that marrow taps upon their sleep, 

Limp in the street of sea, among the rabble 

Of tide-tongued heads and bladders in the deep, 

And stake the sleepers in the savage grave 

That the vampire laugh. 
The patchwork halves were cloven as they scudded 

The wild pigs’ wood, and slime upon the trees, 

Sucking the dark, kissed on the cyanide, 

And loosed the braiding adders from their hairs, 

Rotating halves are horning as they drill 

The arterial angel. 
What colour is glory? death’s feather? tremble 

The halves that pierce the pin’s point in the air, 

And prick the thumb-stained heaven through the thimble. 

The ghost is dumb that stammered in the straw, 

The ghost that hatched his havoc as he flew 

Blinds their cloud-tracking eye. 

My world is pyramid. The padded mummer 

Weeps on the desert ochre and the salt 

Incising summer. 

My Egypt’s armour buckling in its sheet, 

I scrape through resin to a starry bone 

And a blood parhelion. 
My world is cypress, and an English valley. 

I piece my flesh that rattled on the yards 

Red in an Austrian volley. 

I hear, through dead men’s drums, the riddled lads, 

Screwing their bowels from a hill of bones, 

Cry Eloi to the guns. 
My grave is watered by the crossing Jordan. 

The Arctic scut, and basin of the South, 

Drip on my dead house garden. 

Who seek me landward, marking in my mouth 

The straws of Asia, lose me as I turn 

Through the Atlantic corn. 
The fellow halves that, cloven as they swivel 

On casting tides, are tangled in the shells, 

Bearding the unborn devil, 

Bleed from my burning fork and smell my heels. 

The tongue’s of heaven gossip as I glide 

Binding my angel’s hood. 
Who blows death’s feather? What glory is colour? 

I blow the stammel feather in the vein. 

The loin is glory in a working pallor. 

My clay unsuckled and my salt unborn, 

The secret child, I sift about the sea 

Dry in the half-tracked thigh.

Poem – A Winter’s Tale – Dylan Thomas

It is a winter’s tale 

That the snow blind twilight ferries over the lakes 

And floating fields from the farm in the cup of the vales,

Gliding windless through the hand folded flakes, 

The pale breath of cattle at the stealthy sail, 
And the stars falling cold, 

And the smell of hay in the snow, and the far owl 

Warning among the folds, and the frozen hold 

Flocked with the sheep white smoke of the farm house cowl 

In the river wended vales where the tale was told. 
Once when the world turned old 

On a star of faith pure as the drifting bread, 

As the food and flames of the snow, a man unrolled 

The scrolls of fire that burned in his heart and head, 

Torn and alone in a farm house in a fold 
Of fields. And burning then 

In his firelit island ringed by the winged snow 

And the dung hills white as wool and the hen 

Roosts sleeping chill till the flame of the cock crow 

Combs through the mantled yards and the morning men 
Stumble out with their spades, 

The cattle stirring, the mousing cat stepping shy, 

The puffed birds hopping and hunting, the milkmaids 

Gentle in their clogs over the fallen sky, 

And all the woken farm at its white trades, 
He knelt, he wept, he prayed, 

By the spit and the black pot in the log bright light 

And the cup and the cut bread in the dancing shade, 

In the muffled house, in the quick of night, 

At the point of love, forsaken and afraid. 
He knelt on the cold stones, 

He wept form the crest of grief, he prayed to the veiled sky 

May his hunger go howling on bare white bones 

Past the statues of the stables and the sky roofed sties 

And the duck pond glass and the blinding byres alone 
Into the home of prayers 

And fires where he should prowl down the cloud 

Of his snow blind love and rush in the white lairs. 

His naked need struck him howling and bowed 

Though no sound flowed down the hand folded air 
But only the wind strung 

Hunger of birds in the fields of the bread of water, tossed 

In high corn and the harvest melting on their tongues. 

And his nameless need bound him burning and lost 

When cold as snow he should run the wended vales among 
The rivers mouthed in night, 

And drown in the drifts of his need, and lie curled caught 

In the always desiring centre of the white 

Inhuman cradle and the bride bed forever sought 

By the believer lost and the hurled outcast of light. 
Deliver him, he cried, 

By losing him all in love, and cast his need 

Alone and naked in the engulfing bride, 

Never to flourish in the fields of the white seed 

Or flower under the time dying flesh astride. 
Listen. The minstrels sing 

In the departed villages. The nightingale, 

Dust in the buried wood, flies on the grains of her wings

And spells on the winds of the dead his winter’s tale. 

The voice of the dust of water from the withered spring 
Is telling. The wizened 

Stream with bells and baying water bounds. The dew rings 

On the gristed leaves and the long gone glistening 

Parish of snow. The carved mouths in the rock are wind swept strings. 

Time sings through the intricately dead snow drop. Listen. 
It was a hand or sound 

In the long ago land that glided the dark door wide 

And there outside on the bread of the ground 

A she bird rose and rayed like a burning bride. 

A she bird dawned, and her breast with snow and scarlet downed. 
Look. And the dancers move 

On the departed, snow bushed green, wanton in moon light 

As a dust of pigeons. Exulting, the grave hooved 

Horses, centaur dead, turn and tread the drenched white 

Paddocks in the farms of birds. The dead oak walks for love. 
The carved limbs in the rock 

Leap, as to trumpets. Calligraphy of the old 

Leaves is dancing. Lines of age on the stones weave in a flock. 

And the harp shaped voice of the water’s dust plucks in a fold 

Of fields. For love, the long ago she bird rises. Look. 
And the wild wings were raised 

Above her folded head, and the soft feathered voice 

Was flying through the house as though the she bird praised 

And all the elements of the slow fall rejoiced 

That a man knelt alone in the cup of the vales, 
In the mantle and calm, 

By the spit and the black pot in the log bright light. 

And the sky of birds in the plumed voice charmed 

Him up and he ran like a wind after the kindling flight 

Past the blind barns and byres of the windless farm. 
In the poles of the year 

When black birds died like priests in the cloaked hedge row 

And over the cloth of counties the far hills rode near, 

Under the one leaved trees ran a scarecrow of snow 

And fast through the drifts of the thickets antlered like deer, 
Rags and prayers down the knee- 

Deep hillocks and loud on the numbed lakes, 

All night lost and long wading in the wake of the she- 

Bird through the times and lands and tribes of the slow flakes. 

Listen and look where she sails the goose plucked sea,
The sky, the bird, the bride, 

The cloud, the need, the planted stars, the joy beyond 

The fields of seed and the time dying flesh astride, 

The heavens, the heaven, the grave, the burning font. 

In the far ago land the door of his death glided wide, 
And the bird descended. 

On a bread white hill over the cupped farm 

And the lakes and floating fields and the river wended 

Vales where he prayed to come to the last harm 

And the home of prayers and fires, the tale ended. 
The dancing perishes 

On the white, no longer growing green, and, minstrel dead, 

The singing breaks in the snow shoed villages of wishes 

That once cut the figures of birds on the deep bread 

And over the glazed lakes skated the shapes of fishes 
Flying. The rite is shorn 

Of nightingale and centaur dead horse. The springs wither 

Back. Lines of age sleep on the stones till trumpeting dawn. 

Exultation lies down. Time buries the spring weather 

That belled and bounded with the fossil and the dew reborn. 
For the bird lay bedded 

In a choir of wings, as though she slept or died, 

And the wings glided wide and he was hymned and wedded, 

And through the thighs of the engulfing bride, 

The woman breasted and the heaven headed 
Bird, he was brought low, 

Burning in the bride bed of love, in the whirl- 

Pool at the wanting centre, in the folds 

Of paradise, in the spun bud of the world. 

And she rose with him flowering in her melting snow.