These are poems I wrote "for" and "after" one of my favorite poets, Dylan Thomas.


For and After Dylan Thomas

Poems "for" and "after" Dylan Thomas

Myth
by Michael R. Burch

after the sprung rhythm of Dylan Thomas

Here the recalcitrant wind
sighs with grievance and remorse
over fields of wayward gorse
and thistle-throttled lanes.

And she is the myth of the scythed wheat
hewn and sighing, complete,
waiting, lain in a low sheaf—
full of faith, full of grief.

Here the immaculate dawn
requires belief of the leafed earth
and she is the myth of the mown grain—
golden and humble in all its weary worth.

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem toward the end of my senior year of high school, around age 18. To my recollection this is my only poem influenced by the “sprung rhythm” of Dylan Thomas (moreso than that of Gerard Manley Hopkins).

***

Elemental
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Dylan Thomas

The poet delves earth’s detritus—hard toil—
for raw-edged nouns, barbed verbs, vowels’ lush bouquet;
each syllable his pen excretes—dense soil,
dark images impacted, rooted clay.

The poet sees the sea but feels its meaning—
the teeming brine, the mirrored oval flame
that leashes and excites its turgid surface ...
then squanders years imagining love’s the same.

Belatedly, he turns to what lies broken—
the scarred and furrowed plot he fiercely sifts,
among death’s sicksweet dungs and composts seeking
one element whose scorching flame uplifts.

The original title of this poem was “Elemental.” I have also gone with “Radiance” and “Elemental Radiance” from time to time. I think both “elemental” and “radiant” apply to Dylan Thomas’s best poems.

***

Sunset, at Laugharne
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

At Laugharne, in his thirty-fifth year,
he watched the starkeyed hawk career;
he felt the vested heron bless,

and larks and finches everywhere
sank with the sun, their missives west—
where faith is light; his nightjarred breast

watched passion dovetail to its rest.

*

He watched the gulls above green shires
flock shrieking, fleeing priested shores
with silver fishes stilled on spears.

He felt the pressing weight of years
in ways he never had before—
that gravity no brightness spares

from sunken hills to unseen stars.
He saw his father’s face in waves
which gently lapped Wales’ gulled green bays.

He wrote as passion swelled to rage—
the dying light, the unturned page,
the unburned soul’s devoured sage.

*

The words he gathered clung together
till night—the jetted raven’s feather—
fell, fell . . . and all was as before . . .

till silence lapped Laugharne’s dark shore
diminished, where his footsteps shone
in pools of fading light—no more.

***

Downdraft
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

We feel rather than understand what he meant
as he reveals a shattered firmament
which before him never existed.

Here, there are no images gnarled and twisted
out of too many words,
but only flocks of white birds

wheeling and flying.

Here, as Time spins, reeling and dying,
the voice of a last gull
or perhaps some spirit no longer whole,

echoes its lonely madrigal
and we feel its strange pull
on the astonished soul.

O My Prodigal!

The vents of the sky, ripped asunder,
echo this wild, primal thunder—
now dying into undulations of vanishing wings . . .

and this voice which in haggard bleak rapture still somehow downward sings.

***

Mongrel Dreams (II)
by Michael R. Burch

for Thomas Rain Crowe

I squat in my Cherokee lodge, this crude wooden hutch of dry branches and leaf-thatch
as the embers smolder and burn,
hearing always the distant tom-toms of your rain dance.

I relax in my rustic shack on the heroned shores of Gwynedd,
slandering the English in the amulet gleam of the North Atlantic,
hearing your troubadour’s songs, remembering Dylan.

I stand in my rough woolen kilt in the tall highland heather
feeling the freezing winds through the trees leaning sideways,
hearing your bagpipes’ lament, dreaming of Burns.

I slave in my drab English hovel, tabulating rents
while dreaming of Blake and burning your poems like incense.

I abide in my pale mongrel flesh, writing in Nashville
as the thunderbolts flash and the spring rains spill,
till the quill gently bleeds and the white page fills,
dreaming of Whitman, calling you brother.

***

beMused
by Michael R. Burch

Perhaps at three
you'll come to tea,
to have a cuppa here?

You'll just stop in
to sip dry gin?
I only have a beer.

To name the “greats”:
Pope, Dryden, mates?
The whole world knows their names.

Discuss the “songs”
of Emerson?
But these are children's games.

Give me rhythms
wild as Dylan’s!
Give me Bobbie Burns!

Give me Psalms,
or Hopkins’ poems,
Hart Crane’s, if he returns!

Or Langston railing!
Blake assailing!
Few others I desire.

Or go away,
yes, leave today:
your tepid poets tire.






Poetry by Michael R. Burch The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 39 times
Written on 2021-06-03 at 02:19

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Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
"Elemental" and "Sunset, at Laugharne" definitely have that Dylan Thomas sound. They're very nice.
2021-06-03