Dylan Thomas (b. October 27, 1914; d. November 9, 1953): a Welsh poet and writer, with a reputation as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet.”
I’ve just had eighteen straight whiskies. I think that’s the record.
These may be Dylan Thomas’s last recorded words. After a night of hard drinking at the White Horse Tavern in New York City, he stumbled outside, collapsing on the sidewalk. He died the next day, November 9, 1953 at the of age thirty-nine.
Three years earlier, Thomas visited America for the first time. His reading tours here were “famous and notorious. Thomas was the archetypal Romantic poet of the popular American imagination—he was flamboyantly theatrical, a heavy drinker, engaged in roaring disputes in public, and read his work aloud with tremendous depth of feeling and a singing Welsh lilt.” poets.org
I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression.
Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own
One of four birthday poems he wrote:
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
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
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 rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a 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
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
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 sun light
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 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
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.
As Thomas urged:
Do not go gentle into that good night but rage, rage against the dying of the light.
To bring a month of October Sundays, slowly to a close:
Go teal this Halloween. Provide non-food trinkets and allergy-free treats. Dollar stores, grocery and drug stores have lots of inexpensive Halloween-themed items such as stickers, pencils, stampers, creepy crawlers, bracelets, mini-note books, and much more. Not only do kids (and their parents) with allergies benefit; buying and putting together the treat bags is spooky fun. And, any left overs can be packed away for next year’s fright night – rather than candy you might feel the need/urge to eat.