For Dylan Thomas on His Hundredth Birthday – a poem by Ruth Holzer

For Dylan Thomas on His Hundredth Birthday

In old Carmarthenshire a boy ran wild
beneath the lamb-white clouds and larking sky,
not knowing that his paradise would end,
that he would lose those sheltering green hills,
the bay and every green transparent wave,
that innocence would vanish, and all love.

The first enchanted world had promised love.
Hawk and heron blessed the fields, their wild
wings lifting free, as wave on wave
of burnished grass bent to October sky.
He cherished visions of abiding hills,
unchanged within his heart until the end.

In the beginning, who can tell the end?
Intoxicated by the elixirs of love,
he staggered toward his doom. The hills
reminded him of women: round and wild,
they spread their secrets open to the sky,
then drew him close to drink the breathless wave.

His genius burning low, he rode a wave
of fame and whiskey to the sorry end.
He had forgotten how a starry sky
would welcome Christmas in with newborn love.
Black sheep came home, together with his wild
blind bards and sailors, roaring in the hills.

He followed dreams of fame and left the hills
for clapping crowds, a girl’s uncaring wave
goodbye, a cocktail kiss. His thoughts rushed wild.
He howled through city deserts in the end,
denying what he owed to early love.
Death liquified his brain and drowned the sky.

The body turns to earth, the book to sky.
A humble cross stands lonely in the hills,
his muse departed. Children born of love
have scattered in the spindrift-brilliant wave
that roils us down to darkness in the end,
however virtuous we were, or wild.

A hundred autumns fill the sky. Still coursing wild,
his words are foxes in the hills. They never end,
his psalms of love, his praise of star and wave.  

Ruth Holzer’s poems have appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Connecticut River Review, Slant, Blue Unicorn and THEMA, and in other journals and anthologies the U.S. and abroad. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the author of five chapbooks, most recently A Face in the Crowd (Kelsay Books, 2019) and Why We’re Here (Presa Press, 2019).

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