Coming to Arizona for the holidays, we first flew into Phoenix. The next morning needing coffee and wi-fi we also discovered a terrific used book store, Book Gallery. At the store I bought two books, C.S. Lewis‘ Out of the Silent Planet and The Poems of Dylan Thomas. I’ve always wanted to read Thomas, but never had found the time. The moment I flipped thought the book I was hooked. I picked a few poems below.
LIGHT, I KNOW, TREADS THE TEN MILLION STARS
Light, I know, treads the ten million stars,
And blooms in the Hesperides. Light stirs
Out of the heavenly sea onto the moon’s shores.
Such light shall not illuminate my fears
And catch a turnip ghost in every cranny.
I have been frightened of the dark for years.
When the sun falls and the moon stares,
My heart hurls from my side and tears
Drip from my open eyes as honey
Drips from the humming darkness of the hive.
I am a timid child when light is dead.
Unless I learn the night I shall go mad.
It is night’s terrors I must learn to love,
Or pray for day to some attentive god
Who on his cloud hears all my wishes,
Hears and refuses.
Light walks the sky, leaving no print,
And there is always day, the shining of some sun,
In those high globes I cannot count,
And some shine for a second and are gone,
Leaving no print.
But lunar night will not glow in my blackness,
Make bright its corners where a skeleton
Sits back and smiles, A tiny corpse
Turns to the roof a hideous grimace,
Or mice play with an ivory tooth.
Stars’ light and sun’s light will not shine
As clearly as the light of my own brain,
Will only dim life, and light death.
I must lean night’s light or go mad.
HERE IN THIS SPRING
Here in this spring, stars float along the void;
Here in this ornamental winter
Down pelts the naked weather;
This summer buries a spring bird.
Symbols are selected from the years’
Slow rounding of fours seasons’ coasts,
In autumn teach three season’ fires
And four birds’ notes.
I should tell summer from the trees, the worms
Tell, if at all, the winter’s storms
Or the funeral of the sun;
I should learn spring by the cuckooing,
And the slug should teach me destruction.
A worm tells summer better than the clock,
The slug’s a living calendar of days;
What shall it tell me if a timeless insect
Says the world wears away?
(Both poems are from The Poems of Dylan Thomas, 1952)