THOMAS DYLAN (1914-1953, Welsh poet)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT HEADED 'POEM' AND 'FOR AS LONG AS FOREVER IS', 30 lines in five six-line stanzas, written in pencil, 1 page, quarto, on the verso of Chelsea Club headed stationery, with the name in ink 'Patsy Knowles Esq' written in ink in another hand and scored through, no date
It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell claps me to churches
When, with his torch and hourglass, like a sulphur priest,
His beast heel cleft in a sandal,
Time marks a black aisle kindle from the brand of ashes,
And a firewind kill the candle...
In a letter Dylan commented on this poem: 'This is a very decorative poem, a poem, if you'll pardon me on stained glass. There are many ornamental designs, but all, I hope, utilitarian. And I really can't get down to explaining it, you just have to, or just don't have to, let the poem come to you bit by bit through the rather obvious poetry of it. It's not a really satisfactory poem, but I like it. The blue wall of spirits is the sky full of ghosts: the curving crowded world above the new child. It sounds as though it meant the side of a chemist's bowl of methylated spirits, & I saw that too and a child climbing up to it. (There's a pretty fancy the stout young gentleman has. I'm 12 and ½ stone now a bull of a boy.)'
The only difference between this manuscript and the text in Poems no. 111 is in the first line of the third stanza which begins herein 'It is loud and dark directly...' rather than 'There is loud and dark directly...' (Jones).
A first version of the poem was first written in 1936 and published in 'Twentieth Century Verse' in January 1937 (Ralph Maud); Ferris (Letters) describes that as an unfinished poem and notes that Texas has a twelve-line draft of the first version. No manuscript of the poem has been sold at auction.
PROVENANCE: Kenneth Rendell.
REFERENCES: The Collected Letters, edited by Paul Ferris, 1985, p. 398; Ralph Maud, Entrances to Dylan Thomas' Poetry, 1963; Dylan Thomas: The Poems, edited by Daniel Jones, 1971.