Great Poetry Circle

Great Poetry Circle

About the Poetry Blog

Selection of Great Poetry and some from Tommy Stroller - choose your category - and see my other sites -

The Panther

Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, January 18, 2016 13:34:02

Pacing past these bars has made

his gaze so weary, now nothing holds him

outside this countless passing

and beyond them there is no other world.

His lithe strong steps in steady rhythm

rotate in ever smaller circles,

as if held by a centre his numbed will

cannot free itself from.

Only sometimes does the shutter

on his pupils slide open, and an image

darts inside and down some long hidden nerve-way

to finally flutter then die in his heart.

R.M. RILKE 1910

Tr. TommyStroller

This is just my own poetic interpretation and does not claim to be an accurate translation

Sein Blick ist von Vorübergehen der Stäbe

so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.

Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe

und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,

der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,

ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,

in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille

sich lautlos auf—. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,

geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille—

und hirt im Herzen auf zu sein.

Rilke is one of my favourite poets because his poetry is so exact and yet so deep. This poem, one of his most famous, was inspired by the sculptor Rodin telling him he should go to the Paris Zoo and minutely observe the animals there. It was in the collection called New Poetry that was a new direction for the poet, most of whose works were heavily metaphysical and philosophical before this.

Something That The Wind Blew In

TS InscapePosted by Graham Thompson Sat, January 09, 2016 19:15:40

Star on the Mast

A star sails into harbour

On the yule-tree

On the mast

Of the old tug

Longing for repair

The Light Is Going

The light is going

way over the copse,

it shrinks from the ploughed

gullies and blackbird runs

between the hawthorn,

gilding still the leftover

harvest straw, the elm tops

threading the November dusk

with stripped and lonely lifelines.

Old man, old woman,

two lightning blasted trunks

await their final rest,

like an old couple

in God's golden funeral parlour.

Only the old railway

holds a claim on tomorrow;

all else is nature's slow sleep,

turning its nose into the cold

pillow of night

and the longer stillness,

which is ours for the watching

Something That The Wind Blew In

Something that the wind blew in

Through that midnight banging door

Sets my heart to wandering

Wraps my thought in fur

Vacant lots on city streets

Lonely pines on moors

Telephones ringing in empty flats

Minds that talk with walls

Yesterday’s unfinished washing up

Beachballs left in dunes

Jigsaws and wine almost spilt

Coffins in front rooms

Connections between bus and train

Timetables and accounts

All add up to the same

Nothing was destined to meet

It was by chance we came this way

Chance when we shall leave

The only certainty’s in our reason

Or spells cast in the dark

Little Farms

We are like strangers living here

As if from distant planets flung

Falling separately to little farms

Where contact tentatively

Is made


Cross fields & border hedges

The outstretched arms

Reach blindly for the tips

Of fingers searching back

It Floods

Kick the dust:

Stub-toed and obvious

The iron and the rust

Pokes me.

Black faces in the sun

Run to meet me;

Sour eyed, respectfully I turn

Away. I

see no blood

On the trees, they are green

And I am hungry.

It floods,

Sometimes, this dust, into my

Head. The people excite me,

They belong without ties;

No goodbyes

Or "hope you have a nice trip".

They simply turn away

And are gone before you've even


Maybe one day I will

Follow them.

But no,

It never floods



A gold diamond reflection

Has been robbed of its brilliance,

For today, early and scuffling,

The lights have changed. The almost

Orange plays no more its gaudy theme.

The waters ripple under much cruel

And crude description.

The cold saliva brushes past the days

And catches my tongue between

Two definitions. But sharper

Are my thoughts, not hurried

In uncomfortable salt of sweat,

But freezing harder onto

This prime-evil life.


A dance of criss-crossing curves:

Branches in the wood

Dead elms leer out of the eaten bark

Myriad paths of beetles mark their underways

Faces of frogs and children in the leaves

Interwoven in the light wind

Parting and joining through the lowering sun

Old couples go mad in the children's playground

Roundly edit the merry go round

And make a last exit from the swings of heaven

The gold flash of the

Dead soldier's helmet

We are all legionnaires in the woods

Of subtle and self-mystifying desires

We are all young old dead

In receipt of life's greed


The chemistry of the moon

Is still alive and living through

This grey matter, the ghost shiver,

The twitching dog dance,

The unweavable play of feet,

The welcome combusting engine roar

Of car come home,

The fucking combined bodied suck

Of lovers' domes,

The poet's tongue.

Paris Wakes

Under Helen's dark eyes

we are all slaves of the love promise

crystalized in that low-cut glance

and I was stabbed by the moonlight

flashes through dead branches

knives hurtled into night's

soon forsaken black sleep

the words of dead lovers

in the extinct river lights

a city telegraph

for yearning eyes and ears

over the sighs of bridges

the enemies of sleep still walk

but me I retrace moon-steps

into my lost one's arms

and Paris wakes

in the sewers' puke

and waves of new sun`s ashes

brushing cold skin air

Paris wakes

but Helen is not there


Do these words have a place

On the page before they are stowed?

Do they already have a mast in your mind?

For is not all that is done

A voyage of ports

Wherein place is sorted in time.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Wed, January 06, 2016 20:33:18


THIS darksome burn, horseback brown,

His rollrock highroad roaring down,

In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam

Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth

Turns and twindles over the broth

Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,

It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew

Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,

Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,

And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet;

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;

And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.


THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Spectre & Other Luvpoems

TS LovePosted by Graham Thompson Mon, December 28, 2015 17:01:10


Let it pass;

Let it pass over you

Like the curtain of night

Drawn by invisible hands.

Let it come;

Let it come to swallow you

Like the lips of the sea

Close over your whiteskin flesh.

Let me assure you:

You are the light in my saucer sky,

The succulent source of my wishbone seas

That ebb towards procreation.

For the tides will leave us landlocked

On the desolate sands,

When the bright dayblood dispels the nightwitching,

And our seashells will lie hollow to the sun.


We know the way so well

Every path, hill and curve

Of this country is like

A mnemonic for bitter love.

As the future

Has run out of fashions

And metaphors

We will make do

With the map of these bodies

And explore them

Indefinitely well


Remember me when you are old

For age will be the lesson

Of your completion

In things you do not savour now

But will only pause to miss when so long gone

Including this.

Remember us when you grow old

For we were young in loving then

And perfect in asymmetry

I - old in years

You - rolling in the profits of untramelled youth:

Dancing in limbs and fingers

Singing like a winsome flute or sadder violin.

Remember yourself when you fall old

And care for those things that time

Had no time to spare when you were young

And nurture memories of how it was

When wrinkles and dust did never seep

Into these corners of our lives

And trust was greater

Than any chasm yawning between generations.

Yes - it skewed us

Into opposing halves:

The divided paths that ended here -

Again as lonely spirits on this ledge.

The Night Forest

When the world was green
I was a hunter without gun
But once, just once, I saw
A brown fox looking
Carving her body out of the beckoning trees
And it was my shot

We knew this fox and I
The how and why
And so we at once agreed

But............ I wondered
Who would run and who would kill

The soft brown fur mistook my eyes
Hyena mouthed she smiled
Powder footed she stepped away
And the forest was deep
Without that silent body
It crept up and hit me round the neck

In Parting

In parting we lose not only the lover

But also a part of ourselves.

When undoing that first embrace

We signal the final move;

Untying the knot of our hands

Permits the final wave.

If you look in the eyes of the woman departing

They will mirror a glance from the grave.

You Tiptoed Away In The Night

Long ago
Your arms encircled the void
Inside me

In the still desert
That was my heart
You planted yellow roses
And watered them every day

My nose
- so bloodied from blindly
tearing around in my darkened room
bumping against furniture
and walls -
You rubbed so gently
and kissed away the pain

You loosened me from the rack
Of my deceits
and half untruths
Untied me from the table
of my flattened universe

You sat constant
in the sickroom of no hopes
When the doctors
Had given me up
as mad
and gone

In the void where once your arms encircled
In the desert of yellow roses
In the dark room of torn spaces
On the rack of my unprovoked lies
In the sickroom of my patient madness
There is now no-one

You tiptoed away in the night

And I?
Yes I have given you up to the stars
So you can maybe alter mine
Then hopefully your own

How Life Begins

Out of the blistering silence

Comes the fire of our words.

So cool the night against our loving ways,

Paths of burning thoughts raised

On black and bitten bodies.

Suns were born and die again

In the days that these monstrous seconds fill.


Like flags, waving through the night

Of sudden caresses:

A track forever traced by fingers

In these singular brains.

Kindred spirits dally one last moment,

Hanging up their bodies like

Overcoats on different hooks

In the stillness of the early morning hall.

Over The Sea

Over the sea of love's last looking

No sail comes to deliver you

Over the gales, the ribbed and beating clouds

The hormone night lights the blood´s short fuse

My heart is a bay for your safe anchor

My eye a mirror for those calmer days

I cannot walk the headlands of our forever

Without the tightening of memory's stays

Ahead of Time

Tommy Strollers PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, December 22, 2015 17:25:39

When midnight's clear before you

The space between the sounds of night

Is full of shadows

Cast ahead of time,

So that words spoken, images

Floating, have their signposts -

The empty silvered glass

Waiting for the cool touch

Of the face of woman's noon.

The silent bed groaning

With future acts of love.

Breughel's hunters setting out time and again

Over the fireplace

On every new tomorrow.

The honeyed cries of owls

Heard again in these forests of printed words.

The dark itself between the lines

Revealed in double meanings,

But I all alone but for my breathing

Gather in this room, this faceless world,

This knowing darkness,

For the toll of future memory.

For Francesca

The Notes of the Genes

Tommy Strollers PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, December 22, 2015 17:23:22

Bodies have histories

Eyes lie to one another

Even in mirrors

But history remains dug

Deep into every cell

Bodies strain to forget themselves

To join in dances too young for them

But the music of the song

Is in the piano notes of the genes

And we endlessly respond

Endlessly play the game,

And dance the dance,

Biology and memory conspiring

To deny themselves

Through each other

Furnace of Love

Tommy Strollers PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, December 22, 2015 17:20:51

A strange light trembled through you

All the blood and the chemistry of your body

Ignited a spark within me which

Now roars forth as a furnace of love

Melting everything down (trees birds highways seas

Poetry and life itself) into one great gift

For the YOU and I: the perfect knowing

That is mindless and free pressing only

Heart-thoughts in an afterglow

Which must last

Must never be consumed

Must die only with death itself

Though even then transformed into new lives

New loves new longings

Whispering between the boughs

Between the paths of circling gulls

Arcing forever from sea to sky to storm lit clouds

Falling as musky rain on a parched and alien land

A Child's Christmas in Wales

Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, December 14, 2015 23:15:21
This week's post is not poetry, though it is a poetic story by Dylan Thomas, comic and full of a life long gone, even in Wales. Enjoy:

A Child's Christmas in Wales

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.

It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero's garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared.

We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal, ever since Wednesday - that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor's polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.
"Fire!" cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.

And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.

Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, "A fine Christmas!" and smacking at the smoke with a slipper.

"Call the fire brigade," cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong.
"There won't be there," said Mr. Prothero, "it's Christmas."
There was no fire to be seen, only clouds of smoke and Mr. Prothero standing in the middle of them, waving his slipper as though he were conducting.
"Do something," he said. And we threw all our snowballs into the smoke - I think we missed Mr. Prothero - and ran out of the house to the telephone box.
"Let's call the police as well," Jim said. "And the ambulance." "And Ernie Jenkins, he likes fires."

But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's Aunt, Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, "Would you like anything to read?"

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."

"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

"Were there postmen then, too?"
"With sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses, on spread, frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and mittened on them manfully. But all that the children could hear was a ringing of bells."
"You mean that the postman went rat-a-tat-tat and the doors rang?"
"I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them."
"I only hear thunder sometimes, never bells."
"There were church bells, too."
"Inside them?"
"No, no, no, in the bat-black, snow-white belfries, tugged by bishops and storks. And they rang their tidings over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea. It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence."

"Get back to the postmen"
"They were just ordinary postmen, found of walking and dogs and Christmas and the snow. They knocked on the doors with blue knuckles ...."
"Ours has got a black knocker...."
"And then they stood on the white Welcome mat in the little, drifted porches and huffed and puffed, making ghosts with their breath, and jogged from foot to foot like small boys wanting to go out."
"And then the presents?"
"And then the Presents, after the Christmas box. And the cold postman, with a rose on his button-nose, tingled down the tea-tray-slithered run of the chilly glinting hill. He went in his ice-bound boots like a man on fishmonger's slabs. "He wagged his bag like a frozen camel's hump, dizzily turned the corner on one foot, and, by God, he was gone."

"Get back to the Presents."
"There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why."

"Go on the Useless Presents."
"Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor's cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a little hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches, cracknels, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh for the Welsh. And troops of bright tin soldiers who, if they could not fight, could always run. And Snakes-and-Families and Happy Ladders. And Easy Hobbi-Games for Little Engineers, complete with instructions. Oh, easy for Leonardo! And a whistle to make the dogs bark to wake up the old man next door to make him beat on the wall with his stick to shake our picture off the wall. And a packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it. And then it was breakfast under the balloons."

"Were there Uncles like in our house?"
"There are always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle and sugar fags, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings; perhaps a robin, all but one of his fires out. Men and women wading or scooping back from chapel, with taproom noses and wind-bussed cheeks, all albinos, huddles their stiff black jarring feathers against the irreligious snow. Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling pokers. Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms' length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers."

Not many those mornings trod the piling streets: an old man always, fawn-bowlered, yellow-gloved and, at this time of year, with spats of snow, would take his constitutional to the white bowling green and back, as he would take it wet or fire on Christmas Day or Doomsday; sometimes two hale young men, with big pipes blazing, no overcoats and wind blown scarfs, would trudge, unspeaking, down to the forlorn sea, to work up an appetite, to blow away the fumes, who knows, to walk into the waves until nothing of them was left but the two furling smoke clouds of their inextinguishable briars. Then I would be slap-dashing home, the gravy smell of the dinners of others, the bird smell, the brandy, the pudding and mince, coiling up to my nostrils, when out of a snow-clogged side lane would come a boy the spit of myself, with a pink-tipped cigarette and the violet past of a black eye, cocky as a bullfinch, leering all to himself.

I hated him on sight and sound, and would be about to put my dog whistle to my lips and blow him off the face of Christmas when suddenly he, with a violet wink, put his whistle to his lips and blew so stridently, so high, so exquisitely loud, that gobbling faces, their cheeks bulged with goose, would press against their tinsled windows, the whole length of the white echoing street. For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens. Auntie Bessie, who had already been frightened, twice, by a clock-work mouse, whimpered at the sideboard and had some elderberry wine. The dog was sick. Auntie Dosie had to have three aspirins, but Auntie Hannah, who liked port, stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush. I would blow up balloons to see how big they would blow up to; and, when they burst, which they all did, the Uncles jumped and rumbled. In the rich and heavy afternoon, the Uncles breathing like dolphins and the snow descending, I would sit among festoons and Chinese lanterns and nibble dates and try to make a model man-o'-war, following the Instructions for Little Engineers, and produce what might be mistaken for a sea-going tramcar.

Or I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements.
"I bet people will think there's been hippos."
"What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?"
"I'd go like this, bang! I'd throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I'd tickle him under the ear and he'd wag his tail."
"What would you do if you saw two hippos?"

Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow toward us as we passed Mr. Daniel's house.
"Let's post Mr. Daniel a snow-ball through his letter box."
"Let's write things in the snow."
"Let's write, 'Mr. Daniel looks like a spaniel' all over his lawn."
Or we walked on the white shore. "Can the fishes see it's snowing?"

The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea. Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills, and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us, baying "Excelsior." We returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow and cat-called after us, their voices fading away, as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.

Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver. Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs and the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn't the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house. "What shall we give them? Hark the Herald?"
"No," Jack said, "Good King Wencelas. I'll count three." One, two three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together, near the dark door. Good King Wencelas looked out On the Feast of Stephen ... And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely; balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-gulping gas; everything was good again and shone over the town.
"Perhaps it was a ghost," Jim said.
"Perhaps it was trolls," Dan said, who was always reading.
"Let's go in and see if there's any jelly left," Jack said. And we did that.

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

Dylan Thomas

« PreviousNext »