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The First International Dylan Day

By May 14, 2015Poetry

Today is the very first International Dylan Day, an event designed to celebrate the great Welsh Poet, Dylan Thomas. Now when the day was in discussion many said it wasn’t needed, that the poet is celebrated enough and I would disagree! Today on our Facebook page I posted an excerpt from Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and from around 100 comments only three reference Dylan Thomas, every other reference is to Matched or something called Interstellar where I assume this text is used.

Clearly Dylan still needs some promotion and many are missing out on the literary wonders he has on offer. Everyone today has posted Do Not Go Gentle, so instead of going with the obvious choice, I’m going to share my favourite Dylan poem Poem in October. Of all his works, it’s this one that stirs up my soul, as a frequent visitor to Laugharne as a child, Poem in October evokes wonderful memories for me and if I close my eyes as I listen I can walk beside my literary hero. It’s been my favourite poem for many years but reading it as I age myself it’s taken on different meanings for me. I’m now a few years past the 30 years to heaven he wrote about, an age that seemed so old when I first fell in love with this beautiful villanelle.

I was going to make a You Tube video and read it but then I found a video of Dylan Thomas reading it and clearly he’ll do a much better job than me! For those who don’t like videos or can’t listen to them, I’ve included the text too. I hope you enjoy it as much as I always do.

The pictures are my own, taken on my last visit to Laugharne. While you don’t get to walk alongside Dylan, you do at least get a snapshot. The photos include Laugharne Castle, The Writing Shed (taken through glass, sorry), and the Boathouse.

Poem in October

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 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 a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in 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 sunlight
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 the 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 singing birds.

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.

This poem is from my copy of Dylan Thomas’ Selected Poems.

Selected Poems – US
Selected Poems – UK

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