(Poem #14) Prologue
This day winding down now At God speeded summer's end In the torrent salmon sun, In my seashaken house On a breakneck of rocks Tangled with chirrup and fruit, Froth, flute, fin, and quill At a wood's dancing hoof, By scummed, starfish sands With their fishwife cross Gulls, pipers, cockles, and snails, Out there, crow black, men Tackled with clouds, who kneel To the sunset nets, Geese nearly in heaven, boys Stabbing, and herons, and shells That speak seven seas, Eternal waters away From the cities of nine Days' night whose towers will catch In the religious wind Like stalks of tall, dry straw, At poor peace I sing To you strangers (though song Is a burning and crested act, The fire of birds in The world's turning wood, For my swan, splay sounds), Out of these seathumbed leaves That will fly and fall Like leaves of trees and as soon Crumble and undie Into the dogdayed night. Seaward the salmon, sucked sun slips, And the dumb swans drub blue My dabbed bay's dusk, as I hack This rumpus of shapes For you to know How I, a spining man, Glory also this star, bird Roared, sea born, man torn, blood blest. Hark: I trumpet the place, From fish to jumping hill! Look: I build my bellowing ark To the best of my love As the flood begins, Out of the fountainhead Of fear, rage read, manalive, Molten and mountainous to stream Over the wound asleep Sheep white hollow farms To Wales in my arms. Hoo, there, in castle keep, You king singsong owls, who moonbeam The flickering runs and dive The dingle furred deer dead! Huloo, on plumbed bryns, O my ruffled ring dove in the hooting, nearly dark With Welsh and reverent rook, Coo rooning the woods' praise, who moons her blue notes from her nest Down to the curlew herd! Ho, hullaballoing clan Agape, with woe In your beaks, on the gabbing capes! Heigh, on horseback hill, jack Whisking hare! who Hears, there, this fox light, my flood ship's Clangour as I hew and smite (A clash of anvils for my Hubbub and fiddle, this tune On a toungued puffball) But animals thick as theives On God's rough tumbling grounds (Hail to His beasthood!). Beasts who sleep good and thin, Hist, in hogback woods! The haystacked Hollow farms in a throng Of waters cluck and cling, And barnroofs cockcrow war! O kingdom of neighbors finned Felled and quilled, flash to my patch Work ark and the moonshine Drinking Noah of the bay, With pelt, and scale, and fleece: Only the drowned deep bells Of sheep and churches noise Poor peace as the sun sets And dark shoals every holy field. We will ride out alone then, Under the stars of Wales, Cry, multitudes of arks! Across The water lidded lands, Manned with their loves they'll move Like wooden islands, hill to hill. Hulloo, my prowed dove with a flute! Ahoy, old, sea-legged fox, Tom tit and Dai mouse! My ark sings in the sun At God speeded summer's end And the flood flowers now.
This was Thomas' own prologue to his 'Collected Poems' (1952). Dylan Thomas was in love with words. He loved their sound and their texture, and his poems, though often dense and impenetrable in content, were never anything less than beautiful in their intricate soundscapes. He has often been accused of deliberate obscurity, due to his technique of using words more for their connotations and rhythmic/melodic properties than for their 'meanings'; nevertheless, he remains one of the most popular poets of this century. I don't think I've ever read a better poetic description of the countryside than that in 'Prologue'. Thomas had a keen awareness of his role as a modern-day bard; indeed, many of his poems resound with the quality of 'hwyl', a style of high-flown rhetoric much used in traditional Celtic ballads and epics. 'Prologue' displays this quality in buckets, and underlying it all is Thomas' deep and abiding love for his Wales. "One: I am a Welshman; Two: I am a drunkard; Three: I am a lover of the human race, especially of women." - Dylan Thomas Biographical Note: Dylan Marlais Thomas was born in the Welsh seaport of Swansea on October 27, 1914. One of the best-known British poets of the mid-20th century, he is remembered for his highly original, obscure poems, his amusing prose tales and plays, and his turbulent, well-publicized personal life. His most popular works include the radio play "Under Milk Wood" (posthumously published, 1954) and the sketch "A Child's Christmas in Wales" (1955), but his more ambitious work consists of the complex poems in which he expressed a deeply romantic vision. Beginning in 1949, Thomas visited the United States several times, touring college campuses to read his poetry. Widely known for his powerful poetry readings over BBC radio, he became a popular, if controversial, figure. He died at the age of 39 on November 9, 1953 in New York City after a period of depression and heavy drinking. thomas.