THOMAS DYLAN (1914-1953, Welsh poet)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'IN THE WHITE GIANT'S THIGH', 60 lines, 4 pages, quarto [undated, but composition begun in 1947 and finished in 1951]
Through throats where many rivers meet, the curlews cry,
Under the conceiving moon, on the high chalk hill,
And there this night I walk in the white giant's thigh
Where barren as boulders women lie longing still
To Labour and love though they lay down long ago.
Through throats where many rivers meet, the women pray,
Pleading in the waded bay for the seed to flow
Though the names on their weed grown stones are rained away
And alone in the night's eternal, curving act
They yearn with tongues of curlews for the unconcealed
And immemorial sons of the cudgelling, hacked
Hill. Who once in gooseskin winter loved all ice leaved
In the courters' lanes, or twined in the ox roasting sun
In the wains tonned so high that the wisps of hay
Clung to the pitching clouds, so gay with anyone
Young as they in the after milking moonlight lay...
ONE OF DYLAN THOMAS'S IMPORTANT LAST POEMS. The poem is entirely complete in itself, but Dylan Thomas made it clear that he thought of it with two of his other last poems as 'separate parts of a long poem', forming what he considered to be his great celebratory work. He intended to publish it with the first two, 'In Country Sleep' and 'Over Sir John's Hill', under a general title 'In Country Heaven' and saw them together as parts of a regeneration myth. William Moynihan states that they are 'a complete development of Thomas's redemptive concepts. Together, they form a complete picture of the god-universe and the man-divinity being merged and yet, paradoxically, still carrying on their respective man or God functions.' In this section Thomas asks the dead women to teach him 'the love that is evergreen'. Thomas explained that 'In Country Heaven' was 'an affirmation of the beautiful and terrible worth of the earth. It grows into a praise of what is and what could be on this lump in the skies. It is a poem about happiness.' No manuscript of this poem has been sold at auction.
Thomas told Vernon Watkins that he spent three weeks on the first line of 'In the White Giant's Thigh'. There is one word different in this manuscript from the version in The Poems: in line 50 this manuscript has 'bows' instead of 'knees',
PROVENANCE: Sophie Dupré.
REFERENCES: William Moynihan, The Craft and Art of Dylan Thomas, 1966; Andrew Lycett, Dylan Thomas: A New Life, 2003; The Collected Letters of Dylan Thomas, edited by Paul Ferris, 1985; Dylan Thomas: The Poems, edited by Daniel Jones, 1971.