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Dylan Thomas: More Than Dying

Image: Unsplash, downloaded ( 24.09.2022.

The force that through the green fuse

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees

Is my destroyer.

And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose

My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks

Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams

Turns mine to wax.

And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins

How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool

Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind

Hauls my shroud sail.

And I am dumb to tell the hanging man

How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;

Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood

Shall calm her sores.

And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind

How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb

How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Out Of The Sighs

Out of the sighs a little comes,

But not of grief, for I have knocked down that

Before the agony; the spirit grows,

Forgets, and cries;

A little comes, is tasted and found good;

All could not disappoint;

There must, be praised, some certainty,

If not of loving well, then not,

And that is true after perpetual defeat.

After such fighting as the weakest know,

There's more than dying;

Lose the great pains or stuff the wound,

He'll ache too long

Through no regret of leaving woman waiting

For her soldier stained with spilt words

That spill such acrid blood.

Were that enough, enough to ease the pain,

Feeling regret when this is wasted

That made me happy in the sun,

And, sleeping, made me dream

How much was happy while it lasted,

Were vagueness enough and the sweet lies plenty,

The hollow words could bear all suffering

And cure me of ills.

Were that enough, bone, blood, and sinew,

The twisted brain, the fair-formed loin,

Groping for matter under the dog's plate,

Man should be cured of distemper.

For all there is to give I offer:

Crumbs, barn, and halter.

In my craft or sullen art

In my craft or sullen art

Exercised in the still night

When only the moon rages

And the lovers lie abed

With all their griefs in their arms,

I labour by singing light

Not for ambition or bread

Or the strut and trade of charms

On the ivory stages

But for the common wages

Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart

From the raging moon I write

On these spindrift pages

Nor for the towering dead

With their nightingales and psalms

But for the lovers, their arms

Round the griefs of the ages,

Who pay no praise or wages

Nor heed my craft or art.

Source: Collected poems: 1934-1953/Dylan Thomas (Thomas, D. (1999) Collected poems: 1934-1953, London: Everyman)


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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