Dylanesque 2: Dylan Thomas´ last poem

They wrote in the English language, but they thought and expressed themselves in idioms insidiously, hauntingly Welsh.

So it was with Thomas, whose Carmarthenshire forebears could hardly have been more utterly Welsh, and most recognisably perhaps in his very last poem of all, the „Prologue“ to his Collected Poems of 1952. This contains many Dylanesque trademarks – dancing hoofs, sing-song owls, haystacked farms and such – but there is also something incantatory to it, something arcane that seems to spring, at least to an ardent like me, from the very matter of Cymru.

It is written in a weirdly complex rhyme pattern, so obscure that most readers will never notice a pattern at all, and halfway through there is a sudden chill passage of prophecy. The poet is talking about distant cities, „cities of nine Days‘ night“, and almost exactly 50 years before the tragedy of 9/11 he tells us that their

. . . towers will catch
In the religious wind
Like stalks of dry, tall straw . . .
Thus might have spake Merlin, himself a Carmarthenshire man, they say.

/ 31.12.03

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