Storm, Dahlia and ‘Poem in October’

27 Oct

1   It’s a very grey day today and we are promised an enormous storm with possibly 80-90 mph winds.  A friend sent me this warning.

Batten down the hatches! There's a hoolie blowin' in!

Batten down the hatches! There’s a Hoolie blawin’ in!

2   The dahlias are still in flower, though, given the forecast, this may be the last we see this Autumn.

White Dahlia

White Dahlia

3    I love the poetry of Dylan Thomas whose birthday it is today. Here for you is his ‘Poem in October’, one of my favourites. I love his lyricism and the way he plays with words and the intimations of the wonderful ‘Under Milk Wood’, to come some ten years later.

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 net 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 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
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 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
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

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.

Dylan Thomas

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16 responses to “Storm, Dahlia and ‘Poem in October’

  1. Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    November 6, 2013 at 4:34 am

    I have lavender dahlias that for some reason have continued to hold out even with the rain and wind over the past several days; they are special aren’t they.

  2. suzywordmuser

    October 30, 2013 at 5:32 am

    That’s a really beautiful poem! 🙂 I’ve not read that much from Dylan Thomas, so it’s very new to me. Thank you for drawing my attention to it! I didn’t like poetry like this when I was a teenager experimenting with poetry in the 80’s, but I appreciate these old poets so much more now. I guess they were not really written for teenagers to relate to anyway. The subjects are often thoughts of a more mature mind, so it makes sense to me why I can relate to more of them now. And these lines remind me so much of my Dad, and his love for the outdoors and nature! 🙂

    ‘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
    Sang alive
    Still in the water and singing birds’

    So beautiful!!♥

    I love the warning about the storm!! 😉 Kind of sounds a little like traditional Norfolk language where I live! We barely got touched by a whistling wind where I am. I’m not sure if we were just lucky or if that wind was not as far reaching and severe as they made it out to be. I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry!

  3. Alex Autin

    October 29, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I heard about the storms via EarthSkyNews. Glad to hear all is well with you. What a fitting post.

  4. Hudson Howl

    October 29, 2013 at 3:38 am

    A poetic gem; ground and polished to perfection, a refraction of life and sublime with a tinge of remorse………..of those who are rockbound and to those set a drift

    As for the storm, am sure your safe sound, your smart, am sure you battened down the hatches and baked up a storm?

  5. babyjill7...Marilyn Griffin

    October 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Dahlia is most beautiful…
    and the poetry was too…
    glad storm was light…

  6. flowerpot

    October 28, 2013 at 11:28 am

    We got away lightly with the storm here in Falmouth Sally – hope you’re OK!

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Pleased to hear that, so did we. Family in London less lucky, tree down and garden gate off its hinges, otherwise okay. 🙂

  7. lavendermoongirlblog

    October 28, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Feeling the storm this morning! Great post!

  8. unexpectedincommonhours

    October 27, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Stay safe, dry and warm!

  9. valeriedavies

    October 27, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Sally what a knock-out poem… no-one like Dylan Thomas… now I must find a book of his poems, I only know Milkwood… thank you so much for printing it entire…
    glorious dahlia… and at first I thought your delicious poster was a picture of Grace Darling until I read the words!
    Lovely post thank you

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      The volume, ‘Deaths and Entrances’ is my favourite. ‘Poem in October’ is in there and ‘Hunchback in the Park’ and the beautiful,’Fern Hill’.
      I used to read Under Milk Wood with my students – such a joy and a privilege.
      It’s lovely to have you back! Sorry I haven’t been in for a while. What with holidays and family visits and catching up with life, I’ve only posted and not been reading. I’ll get back to it all soon….. All the best, 🙂

  10. ladysighs

    October 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I read about the storm warning. Hope the worst misses you.

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      The word seems to be out! We just spoke to our son in Barcelona and he too knew all about it.It doesn’t sound too bad out there at the moment, just heavy rain. Thank you for your concern. 🙂

  11. john zande

    October 27, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    I hope you and your garden are untouched by the tempest.

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 27, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Thank you very much! It’s not too bad at the moment, just very wet.


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