Altarwise by Owl-Light
Altarwise by owl-light in the half-way house
The gentleman lay graveward with his furies;
Abaddon in the hangnail cracked from Adam,
And, from his fork, a dog among the fairies,
The atlas-eater with a jaw for news,
Bit out the mandrake with to-morrows scream.
Then, penny-eyed, that gentlemen of wounds,
Old cock from nowheres and the heaven's egg,
With bones unbuttoned to the half-way winds,
Hatched from the windy salvage on one leg,
Scraped at my cradle in a walking word
That night of time under the Christward shelter:
I am the long world's gentlemen, he said,
And share my bed with Capricorn and Cancer.
Death is all metaphors, shape in one history;
The child that sucketh long is shooting up,
The planet-ducted pelican of circles
Weans on an artery the genders strip;
Child of the short spark in a shapeless country
Soon sets alight a long stick from the cradle;
The horizontal cross-bones of Abaddon,
You by the cavern over the black stairs,
Rung bone and blade, the verticals of Adam,
And, manned by midnight, Jacob to the stars.
Hairs of your head, then said the hollow agent,
Are but the roots of nettles and feathers
Over the groundowrks thrusting through a pavement
And hemlock-headed in the wood of weathers.
First there was the lamb on knocking knees
And three dead seasons on a climbing grave
That Adam's wether in the flock of horns,
Butt of the tree-tailed worm that mounted Eve,
Horned down with skullfoot and the skull of toes
On thunderous pavements in the garden of time;
Rip of the vaults, I took my marrow-ladle
Out of the wrinkled undertaker's van,
And, Rip Van Winkle from a timeless cradle,
Dipped me breast-deep in the descending bone;
The black ram, shuffling of the year, old winter,
Alone alive among his mutton fold,
We rung our weathering changes on the ladder,
Said the antipodes, and twice spring chimed.
What is the metre of the dictionary?
The size of genesis? the short spark's gender?
Shade without shape? the shape of the Pharaohs echo?
(My shape of age nagging the wounded whisper.)
Which sixth of wind blew out the burning gentry?
(Questions are hunchbacks to the poker marrow.)
What of a bamboo man amomg your acres?
Corset the boneyards for a crooked boy?
Button your bodice on a hump of splinters,
My camel's eyes will needle through the shroud.
Loves reflection of the mushroom features,
Still snapped by night in the bread-sided field,
Once close-up smiling in the wall of pictures,
Arc-lamped thrown back upon the cutting flood.
Dylan Thomas's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Altarwise by Owl-Light by Dylan Thomas )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919)
Rainer Maria Rilke
(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
Poem of the Day
- Don't Brake The Wings, Arno Le Roux
- They Said, Lonnie Hicks
- Taken As Directed., Norman Jin Shyr Wang
- Exercises Of The Mind, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Accounting For Passion, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Poetry, Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
- The Best Is To Forget, Shalom Freedman
- Esta noche, Sergio Jaime
- My Pen Is Happy, King Happy
- All of The Above, King Happy