Sunday, 10 February 2008

Dylan Thomas, war poet

When we consider war poetry we tend, quick as the rattling machine-gun, to think of Wilfred Owen (Dulce et Decorum Est), Isaac Rosenberg (Break of Day in the Trenches), Siegfried Sassoon (Suicide in the Trenches) etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But then, when we reflect a little more we may recall those less dramatic but perhaps more poignant poems like Dylan Thomas's 'Among those Killed in the Dawn Raid was a Man Aged a Hundred'.

Among those killed in the Dawn Raid was a Man Aged a Hundred

When the morning was waking over the war
He put on his clothes and stepped out and died,
The locks yawned loose and a blast blew them wide,
He dropped where he loved on the burst pavement stone
And the funeral grains of the slaughtered floor.
Tell his street on its back he stopped a sun
And the craters of his eyes grew springshoots and fire
When all the keys shot from the locks, and rang.
Dig no more for the chains of his grey-haired heart
The heavenly ambulance drawn by a wound
Assembling waits for the spade's ring on the cage.
O keep his bones away from the common cart,
The morning is flying on the wings of his age
And a hundred storks perch on the sun's right hand.

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