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Poem On His Birthday

Written by: Dylan Thomas | Biography
 | Quotes (57) |
 In the mustardseed sun,
By full tilt river and switchback sea
 Where the cormorants scud,
In his house on stilts high among beaks
 And palavers of birds
This sandgrain day in the bent bay's grave
 He celebrates and spurns
His driftwood thirty-fifth wind turned age;
 Herons spire and spear.

 Under and round him go
Flounders, gulls, on their cold, dying trails,
 Doing what they are told,
Curlews aloud in the congered waves
 Work at their ways to death,
And the rhymer in the long tongued room,
 Who tolls his birthday bell,
Toils towards the ambush of his wounds;
 Herons, steeple stemmed, bless.

 In the thistledown fall,
He sings towards anguish; finches fly
 In the claw tracks of hawks
On a seizing sky; small fishes glide
 Through wynds and shells of drowned
Ship towns to pastures of otters. He
 In his slant, racking house
And the hewn coils of his trade perceives
 Herons walk in their shroud,

 The livelong river's robe
Of minnows wreathing around their prayer;
 And far at sea he knows,
Who slaves to his crouched, eternal end
 Under a serpent cloud,
Dolphins dive in their turnturtle dust,
 The rippled seals streak down
To kill and their own tide daubing blood
 Slides good in the sleek mouth.

 In a cavernous, swung
Wave's silence, wept white angelus knells.
 Thirty-five bells sing struck
On skull and scar where his loves lie wrecked,
 Steered by the falling stars.
And to-morrow weeps in a blind cage
 Terror will rage apart
Before chains break to a hammer flame
 And love unbolts the dark

 And freely he goes lost
In the unknown, famous light of great
 And fabulous, dear God.
Dark is a way and light is a place,
 Heaven that never was
Nor will be ever is always true,
 And, in that brambled void,
Plenty as blackberries in the woods
 The dead grow for His joy.

 There he might wander bare
With the spirits of the horseshoe bay
 Or the stars' seashore dead,
Marrow of eagles, the roots of whales
 And wishbones of wild geese,
With blessed, unborn God and His Ghost,
 And every soul His priest,
Gulled and chanter in young Heaven's fold
 Be at cloud quaking peace,

 But dark is a long way.
He, on the earth of the night, alone
 With all the living, prays,
Who knows the rocketing wind will blow
 The bones out of the hills,
And the scythed boulders bleed, and the last
 Rage shattered waters kick
Masts and fishes to the still quick starts,
 Faithlessly unto Him

 Who is the light of old
And air shaped Heaven where souls grow wild
 As horses in the foam:
Oh, let me midlife mourn by the shrined
 And druid herons' vows
The voyage to ruin I must run,
 Dawn ships clouted aground,
Yet, though I cry with tumbledown tongue,
 Count my blessings aloud:

 Four elements and five
Senses, and man a spirit in love
 Tangling through this spun slime
To his nimbus bell cool kingdom come
 And the lost, moonshine domes,
And the sea that hides his secret selves
 Deep in its black, base bones,
Lulling of spheres in the seashell flesh,
 And this last blessing most,

 That the closer I move
To death, one man through his sundered hulks,
 The louder the sun blooms
And the tusked, ramshackling sea exults;
 And every wave of the way
And gale I tackle, the whole world then,
 With more triumphant faith
That ever was since the world was said,
 Spins its morning of praise,

 I hear the bouncing hills
Grow larked and greener at berry brown
 Fall and the dew larks sing
Taller this thunderclap spring, and how
 More spanned with angles ride
The mansouled fiery islands! Oh,
 Holier then their eyes,
And my shining men no more alone
 As I sail out to die.



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