Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dylan Thomas, Author's Prologue

I dreamed a poem by Dylan Thomas last night, which seems a bit cold and stuffy as far as dreaming goes, but not when considering that Dylan is my own poet, my favored, my Beloved. The impression was, actually, dramatic, as most of my dreams are.

I've always had poignant dreams. I enjoy sleeping, because of the anticipation of a dream, which is as enjoyable, or more so, as any waking event for me. My dreams fall into categories and maybe this is typical of dreaming--I don't know. I have what I call...

baby dreams--in which an infant with need upon me figures prominently. Sometimes the dream centers around the baby and sometimes it is just an element, but its need is always important.

tornado dreams--in which I'm struggling to gather a missing family member(s) and reach shelter. I've heard from other Kansans that they share this tornado nightmare phenomenon.

sex dreams-in which the dream-lover is always intensely supportive in an emotional sense or he is not. Most of my dreams have a sexual element.

flying dreams--in which I'm bodily capable of flight. I had these frequently when I was young, but the frequency trailed off as a young adult, and I don't experience flight anymore except in a clunky kind of way which isn't worth the effort.

adventure dreams--in which random events and images string together in an epic adventure. These are the kinds of dreams in which I see stone giants and buses and landscapes and go on fantastical journeys with various people I know.

bad dreams--These can be any of the above, and they wake me occasionally in order that I can escape them.

I suppose most people can, but I can also meta-dream, by which I mean observe the dream from outside it, and, sometimes, control what happens. (Note: After writing this post, I googled this phenomenon and discovered it's called lucid dreaming.) This is particularly true in adventure dreams when I accidentally face death, for example, if my bus runs off the road and hurtles off a cliff. In that case, my meta-dream function snaps on and causes the bus to drift through the air to touch harmlessly down in the valley. I can meta-dream other times, but imminent death never fails to trigger it, so I suppose meta-dreaming is my brain's built-in safeguard.

The only time my deathguard was off was during three nights I was taking a prescription medication. The resulting nightmares were so horrifying that many years later they still make me flush with fear. I had to stop the med because of it.

I used to meta-dream a lot when I could fly, and I exploited the meta-dreaming for a while to induce flying when that ability began to tail off. I can still meta-dream to fly, but, as I hinted earlier, it's not worth the effort.

So around 3am last night, I heard a voice with rich vowels and mellow, deliberate consonants, reciting with a rhythm like a thunderstorm, rolling thunder, flashes of lightning and all that. Falling up out of dream, I tried to recall who it was, because I felt I recognized it. I thought of Jim Corbett's Man-Eaters of Kumaon and Whitman's Leaves of Grass, but neither of these was quite right. Then as I woke, I realized it was my own Dylan. (For an example of what he sounded like, you can hear him recite Do not go gentle into that good night here.)

In honor of Dylan's visitation last night, I was going to copy out Fern Hill, the first, sometimes only, DT poem most people read. It was my first, too, but also the beginning of a life-long affair. Unfortunately, Blogger's formatting is limited, and much of the rhythm of that poem is crucified when I type it out. I will, instead, invest the time in copying Author's Prologue from The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, 1934-1952, one of the most vivid, lyrical, intricate and beautiful poems I know.

Author's Prologue

This day winding down now
At God speeded summer's end
In the torrent salmon sun,
In my seashaken house
On a breakneck of rocks
Tangled with chirrup and fruit,
Froth, flute, fin and quill
At a wood's dancing hoof,
By scummed, starfish sands
With their fishwife cross
Gulls, pipers, cockles, and sails,
Out there, crow black, men
Tackled with clouds, who kneel
To the sunset nets,
Geese nearly in heaven, boys
Stabbing, and herons, and shells
That speak seven seas,
Eternal waters away
From the cities of nine
Days' night whose towers will catch
In the religious wind
Like stalks of tall, dry straw,
At poor peace I sing
To you strangers (though song
Is a burning and crested act,
The fire of birds in
The world's turning wood,
For my sawn, splay sounds),
Out of these seathumbed leaves
That will fly and fall
Like leaves of trees and as soon
Crumble and undie
Into the dogdayed night.
Seaward the salmon, sucked sun slips,
And the dumb swans drub blue
My dabbed bay's dusk, as I hack
This rumpus of shapes
For you to know
How I, a spinning man,
Glory also this star, bird
Roared, sea born, man torn, blood blest.
Hark: I trumpet the place,
From fish to jumping hill! Look:
I build my bellowing ark
To the best of my love
As the flood begins,
Out of the fountainhead
Of fear, rage red, manalive,
Molten and mountainous to stream
Over the wound asleep
Sheep white hollow farms
To Wales in my arms.
Hoo, there, in castle keep,
You king singsong owls, who moonbeam
The flickering runs and dive
The dingle furred deer dead!
Huloo, on plumbed bryns,
O my ruffled ring dove
In the hooting, nearly dark
With Welsh and reverent rook
Coo rooing the woods' praise,
Who moons her blue notes from her nest
Down to the curlew herd!
Ho, hullaballoing clan
Agape, with woe
In your beaks, on the gabbing capes!
Heigh, on horseback hill, jack
Whisking hare! who
Hears, there, this fox light, my flood ship's
Clangour as I hew and smite
(A clash of anvils for my
Hubbub and fiddle, this tune
On a tongued puffball)
But animals thick as thieves
On God's rough tumbling grounds
(Hail to His beasthood!).
Beasts who sleep good and thin
Hist, in hogsback woods! The haystacked
Hollow farms in a throng
Of waters cluck and cling,
And barnroofs cockcrow war!
O kingdom of neighbours, finned
Felled and quilled, flash to my patch
Work ark and the moonshine
Drinking Noah of the bay,
With pelt, and scale, and fleece:
Only the drowned deep bells
Of sheep and churches noise
Poor peace as the sun sets
And dark shoals every holy field.
We will ride out alone, and then,
Under the stars of Wales,
Cry, Multitudes of arks! Across
The water lidded lands,
Manned with their loves they'll move,
Like wooden islands, hill to hill.
Huloo, my prowed dove with a flute!
Ahoy, old, sea-legged fox,
Tom tit and Dai mouse!
My ark sings in the sun
At God speeded summer's end
And the flood flowers now.

3 comments:

Chet Gresham said...

Great Poem! I love DT!

Chet Gresham said...

Oh, I think if you type out the poem and then take a screen shot of the poem you can upload it as a picture.

Morning Angel said...

Aye, that's a thought. ty