Dylan Thomas lived up to the saying from one of his works, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Referred to as a classic Welsh writer, Thomas displayed a lust for life, a comic wit, and a mastery of “the word.” Many would go so far as to say that he is one of the greatest poets of our time. Born in Wales in 1914, Thomas’ first book of poetry, Eighteen Poems, was published in 1934 to great acclaim. Two years later he met Caitlin MacNamara, whom he married in 1938. His second volume of poetry, Twenty-five Poems was released the same year. The Map of Love and The World I Breathe were both published in 1939. During World War II he worked for Strand Films. In 1952, Collected Poems became the last book Thomas published. He died at the age of 39th while on a lecture tour of the United States.
Ceremony after a Fire Raid
Among the street burned to tireless death
A child of a few hours
With its kneading mouth
Charred on the black breast of the grave
The mother dug, and its arms full of fires.
Darkness kindled back into beginning
When the caught tongue nodded blind,
A star was broken
Into the centuries of the child
Myselves grieve now, and miracles cannot atone.
Your death that myselves the believers
May hold it in a great flood
Till the blood shall spurt,
And the dust shall sing like a bird
As the grains blow, as your death grows, through our heart.
Child beyond cockcrow, by the fire-dwarfed
Street we chant the flying sea
In the body bereft.
Love is the last light spoken. Oh
Seed of sons in the loin of the black husk left.
I know not whether
Adam or Eve, the adorned holy bullock
Or the white ewe lamb
Or the chosen virgin
Laid in her snow
On the altar of London,
Was the first to die
In the cinder of the little skull,
O bride and bride groom
O Adam and Eve together
Lying in the lull
Under the sad breast of the headstone
White as the skeleton
Of the garden of Eden.
I know the legend
Of Adam and Eve is never for a second
Silent in my service
Over the dead infants
Over the one
Child who was priest and servants,
Word, singers, and tongue
In the cinder of the little skull,
Who was the serpent’s
Night fall and the fruit like a sun,
Man and woman undone,
Beginning crumbled back to darkness
Bare as the nurseries
Of the garden of wilderness.
Into the organpipes and steeples
Of the luminous cathedrals,
Into the weathercocks’ molten mouths
Rippling in twelve-winded circles,
Into the dead clock burning the hour
Over the urn of sabbaths
Over the whirling ditch of daybreak
Over the sun’s hovel and the slum of fire
And the golden pavements laid in requiems,
Into the bread in a wheatfield of flames,
Into the wine burning like brandy,
The masses of the sea
The masses of the sea under
The masses of the infant-bearing sea
Erupt, fountain, and enter to utter forever
Glory glory glory
The sundering ultimate kingdom of genesis’ thunder.
Among Those Killed In The Dawn Raid
Was A Man Aged A Hundred
When the morning was waking over the war
He put on his clothes and stepped out and he died,
The locks yawned loose and a blast threw them wide,
He dropped where he loved on the burst pavement stone
And the funeral grains of the slaughtered floor.
Tell his street on its back he stopped a sun
And the craters of his eyes grew spring shoots and fire
When all the keys shot from the locks, and rang.
Dig no more for the chains of his grey-haired heart.
The heavenly ambulance drawn by a wound
Assembling waits for the spade’s ring on the cage.
O keep his bones away from that common cart,
The morning is flying from the wings of his age
And a hundred storks perch on the sun’s right hand.
Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire,
of a Child in London
Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness
And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn
The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
the mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.
Deep with the first dead lies London’s daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.