That sanity be kept I sit at open windows, Regard the sky, make unobtrusive comment on the moon. Sit at open windows in my shirt, And let the traffic pass, the signals shine, The engines run, the brass bands keep in tune, For sanity must be preserved.
Thinking of death, I sit and watch the park Where children play in all their innocence. And matrons on the littered grass Absorb the daily sun.
The sweet suburban music from a hundred lawns Comes softly to my ears. The English mowers mow and mow.
I mark the couples walking arm in arm. Observe their smiles, Sweet invitations and inventions, See them lend love illustration By gesture and grimace. I watch them curiously, detect beneath the laughs What stands for grief, a vague bewilderment At things not turning right.
I sit at open windows in my shirt, Observe, like some Jehovah of the westerners What passes by, that sanity be kept.
by Dylan Thomas (1933)
Additional information: This was one of his first poems published in ‘Poet’s Corner’ of the Sunday Referee.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees Is my destroyer. And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams Turns mine to wax. And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind Hauls my shroud sail. And I am dumb to tell the hanging man How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head; Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood Shall calm her sores. And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
By Dylan Thomas (1934) from 18 Poems
Additional information: ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower’ is the poem that made Dylan Thomas famous. Written in 1933, when Thomas was nineteen, it was first published in his 1934 collection, 18 Poems. Like the other poems in the collection, which belong to what has been called Thomas’s ‘womb-tomb period‘, it deals with “creation, both physical and poetic, and the temporal process of birth, death, and rebirth“.
My hero bares his nerves along my wrist
That rules from wrist to shoulder,
Unpacks the head that, like a sleepy ghost,
Leans on my mortal ruler,
The proud spine spurning turn and twist.
And these poor nerves so wired to the skull
Ache on the lovelorn paper
I hug to love with my unruly scrawl
That utters all love hunger
And tells the page the empty ill.
My hero bares my side and sees his heart
Tread; like a naked Venus,
The beach of flesh, and wind her bloodred plait;
Stripping my loin of promise,
He promises a secret heat.
He holds the wire from this box of nerves
Praising the mortal error
Of birth and death, the two sad knaves of thieves,
And the hunger’s emperor;
He pulls that chain, the cistern moves.
by Dylan Thomas
from 18 Poems
Fun fact: People speculate that this poem is about teenage mastrubation in the solitude of the toilet ever on the verge of being discovered. Meanwhile others think it’s about his writing pen… well up until the latter half.