Ode to Dylan Thomas

You did not go gentle through your life,
knocked hard for flesh to let you enter,
soul-shaken by your mother and your wife,
thistledown-free and unafraid of winter.

You, self-confessed gusty man and a half,
languished in whisky and bitter-sweet ale,
like the Dewi singing, ready with a laugh
and a rhyme like a spouting whale.

What of your notorious love of Caitlin?
In the owl-light of the halfway-house,
stormy, rebellious, she was always waiting,
your jealously protective spouse.

And what of Rosie Probert and Captain Cat,
shipwrecked on the bible-black dreams
of starless Llareggub, with its crowblack
fishingboat-bobbing, dab-filled sea?

The end came thousands of miles from home,
stewed in alcohol and steamed by fog,
your life summed up in stories and poems:
a portrait of the artist as an older dog.

Kim M. Russell, 18th May 2021

PROSE & POETRY - THOMAS (DYLAN) - 20th Century Photograph - Dylan Thomas  (1914-1953) by Granger | Dylan thomas, Book writer, Writers and poets

Image found on Pinterest

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Poems to a Poet

Laura is back to host poetics and she begins with a well-known quote from T.S. Eliot, reminding us that poets come from a long lineage.

Laura refers to a chapter in Ted Hughes’ essay ‘Poetry in the Making’, which says, “when we want to convey an …impression, we let one or two details suggest the whole”.  Laura also shares poems by well-known poets about other writers: Gwendolyn Brooks’ ‘Of Robert Frost’; Elizabeth Jennings’ ‘Meditation on D. H. Lawrence” and ‘For Edward Thomas’.

For today’s Poetics prompt, Laura would like us to select one of our favourite poets (a celebrated or a lesser known one) and write a poem either about them in the indirect voice, or addressing them in the direct voice, as in Jennings’ poem ‘For Edward Thomas’.  The title must include the poet’s name, we must try to employ the poet’s recognisable style (in the form of an ode if we choose the direct voice), but there are no other rules for meter or poetry form.

14th May was not only my husband’s birthday, it was also the seventh annual celebration of International Dylan Thomas Day.

47 thoughts on “Ode to Dylan Thomas

  1. My goodness this is stunning! 💝💝 You have given us such a detailed glimpse into the life of Dylan Thomas that as a reader, it’s easy for me to believe that you might have known him in person! Especially like; “What of your notorious love of Caitlin? In the owl-light of the halfway-house, stormy, rebellious, she was always waiting.” I feel a novel coming up 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent response, Kim – like Sanaa says, you write as if you knew him well! I like the nod to ‘Do not go gentle…’ and my favourite line of all is:

    ‘thistledown-free and unafraid of winter.’ – what a perfect way to be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Ingrid. It could only really be Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare, Seamus Heaney or Carol Ann Duffy, all of whom I’ve written about or used in prompts – and now I’ve added another poem I wrote ages ago about Carol Ann Duffy. I didn’t realise how many poems I’d written with her in mind!

      Like

  3. A great poem Kim. Thomas had a very short life due to the choices he made. His poetry has intrigued many as it is passed on and around since his death. I like the way you write from a perspective of questioning the way his life played out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a bit of a fan, David” I taught at a high school and one year I had a very high achieving group from year 9 through to GCSEs and decided to get them to tackle Under Milk Wood, which I backed up with his poetry and short stories. It was a very successful year group, They loved it so much they recorded their own version of the radio play. I think I have a copy somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As others have commented, you knew him so well – it must have been a wonderful experience to see your students inspired by him.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The not-so-gentle opening made me smile as it is his most known imprint, perhaps. Thank you for all the names you mentioned and the stories you shared, a well-written profile by a poet to another.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent tribute!
    “like a spouting whale.” these words made me smile.
    Your poem is amazingly biographical for him….this would be a fine obituary actually. So very well done.

    Liked by 1 person

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