Dylan Thomas

(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953 / Swansea / Wales)

After the Funeral (In memory of Ann Jones)


After the funeral, mule praises, brays,
Windshake of sailshaped ears, muffle-toed tap
Tap happily of one peg in the thick
Grave's foot, blinds down the lids, the teeth in black,
The spittled eyes, the salt ponds in the sleeves,
Morning smack of the spade that wakes up sleep,
Shakes a desolate boy who slits his throat
In the dark of the coffin and sheds dry leaves,
That breaks one bone to light with a judgment clout'
After the feast of tear-stuffed time and thistles
In a room with a stuffed fox and a stale fern,
I stand, for this memorial's sake, alone
In the snivelling hours with dead, humped Ann
Whose hodded, fountain heart once fell in puddles
Round the parched worlds of Wales and drowned each sun
(Though this for her is a monstrous image blindly
Magnified out of praise; her death was a still drop;
She would not have me sinking in the holy
Flood of her heart's fame; she would lie dumb and deep
And need no druid of her broken body).
But I, Ann's bard on a raised hearth, call all
The seas to service that her wood-tongud virtue
Babble like a bellbuoy over the hymning heads,
Bow down the walls of the ferned and foxy woods
That her love sing and swing through a brown chapel,
Blees her bent spirit with four, crossing birds.
Her flesh was meek as milk, but this skyward statue
With the wild breast and blessed and giant skull
Is carved from her in a room with a wet window
In a fiercely mourning house in a crooked year.
I know her scrubbed and sour humble hands
Lie with religion in their cramp, her threadbare
Whisper in a damp word, her wits drilled hollow,
Her fist of a face died clenched on a round pain;
And sculptured Ann is seventy years of stone.
These cloud-sopped, marble hands, this monumental
Argument of the hewn voice, gesture and psalm
Storm me forever over her grave until
The stuffed lung of the fox twitch and cry Love
And the strutting fern lay seeds on the black sill.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (After the Funeral (In memory of Ann Jones) by Dylan Thomas )

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  • Stephen Loomes (11/7/2013 6:56:00 AM)

    I enjoyed the erudite comments of Messrs. Peat and Prosser, and I recommend the BBC disc with Richard Burton narrating Under Milkwood. As for the poem, I was unaware that Ann Jones was Thomas' aunt, and as Ann's bard, his grieving utterances and observations allow us to see through his eyes. The poem is a miracle of the English language (Report) Reply

  • R. H. Peat (11/24/2010 2:51:00 AM)

    The rhyme in this poem is fantastic. The onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, and consonance sing all the way throughout this poem. Even the ends of some the lines rhyme or slant rhyme in places; they emphasize the contextual intent of the poem in ways as well. Lines like “a bell-bouy over the hymning heads” followed by “ferned and foxy woods” as well as “was a still drop” and “lie dumb and deep” separating rhyming end-lines ending with blindly, holy and body and later in the turning of the poem “year & threadbare” and in the closing end lines of “monumental, until, and sill” this poem sings internally with rhyming sounds and some the rhyming sounds end on the end-line, but much of it is internal and quite wonderful to hear aloud as you stumble and tumble through its bunched and bursting feelings coming at you. I marvel at its strength of music while stating a profound mourning for someone well loved. This poem is an example of a masterful use of internal and random end-line rhyme. A poet friend// RH Peat (Report) Reply

  • Denis Prosser (1/17/2010 2:15:00 PM)

    A lot of his earlier poems were obscure. This one was an exception to the rule. Ann Jones was his aunt whose farm he often went to on holidays. A fine poem. His description of a typical front parlour of a Welsh house of those times is spot on. (Report) Reply

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