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Poem On His Birthday Analysis



Author: poem of Dylan Thomas Type: poem Views: 30

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  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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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

The poem is in 12 stanzas of 9 lines each, alternating 6 syllables with 9. The rhymes are internal (e.g. death-bell-bless). The rhyme scheme is abab cdcdc. The pattern of stresses appears to be free, although some repeated patterns do appear in the same place( e.g. the first lines of the first and third stanzas scan uu-uu-).
There are many rhymes internal to the lines (e.g. This sandgrain day in the bent bay\'s grave). And some sophisticated syncopations (e.g. finches fly In the claw tracks of hawks On a seizing sky).
The last stanza is difficult for me to follow. What are the \"mansouled fiery islands\" for example?

| Posted on 2010-10-17 | by a guest




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