Dennis Noren: A favorite poem

Poem in October
Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas took a morning walk above a seaside town in his native Wales, tasting the first 30 years of his life.  I love the music and the play of sound that Thomas wove into the poem.  It seems to be discovery of how much he had carried with him from his youth.  He recognized the quiet power of nature, the changes he had experienced, and the mysteries that his mother showed him as a child.  The images are powerful – the rising, the growing distance of the town and harbor, the birdlife, the rain, the orchards.

Dennis Noren
Software Engineer
Board Member, Poetry Center San Jose

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



Filed under Favorite Poem

3 responses to “Dennis Noren: A favorite poem

  1. Karen DeMello

    What incredible imagery for eye and ear. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Renée Schell

    I like the way the rain takes on meaning–”a shower of all my days”
    and the depth of feeling behind the repeated phrase “the weather turned around.”
    You feel his whole life is encapsulated in the landscape, as well as in this poem. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Dennis, what a nice intro to Dylan Thomas’ poem, and what a lovely poem. Thank you. I’m tempted to dig up my copy of Dylan’s work and browse through it.

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