Monday, December 5, 2011

Dylan Thomas's love for the lives of words

I fell in love – that is the only expression I can think of – once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to heat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy. I tumbled for words at once. And, when I began to read the nursery rhymes for myself, and, later, to read other verses and ballads, I knew that I had discovered the most important things, to me, that could be ever. There they were, seemingly lifeless, made only of black and white, but out of them, out of their own being, came love and terror and pity and pain and wonder and all the other vague abstractions that make our ephemeral lives dangerous, great, and bearable. Out of them came the gusts and grunts and hiccups and heehaws of the common fun of the earth; and though what the words meant was, in its own way, often deliciously funny enough, so much funnier seemed to me, at that almost forgotten time, the shape and shade and size and noise of the words as they hummed, strummed, jugged, and galloped along.

That was the time of innocence; words burst upon me, unencumbered by trivial or portentous association; words were their springlike selves, fresh with Eden's dew, as they flew out of the air. They made their own original associations as they sprang and shone. The words "Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross," were as haunting to me, who did not know then what a cock-horse was nor cared a damn where Banbury Cross might be, as, much later, were such lines as John Donne's, "Go and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root," which also I could not understand when I first read them.

And as I read more and more, and it was not all verse, by any means, my love for the real life of words increased until I knew that I must live with them and in them always. - Dylan Thomas

1 comment:

  1. Dylan made a poem about 'words burst upon me'

    Especially when the October wind
    With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
    Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
    And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
    By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
    Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
    My busy heart who shudders as she talks
    Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.