Dylan Thomas

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

If I Were Tickled By The Rub Of Love - Poem by Dylan Thomas

If I were tickled by the rub of love,
A rooking girl who stole me for her side,
Broke through her straws, breaking my bandaged string,
If the red tickle as the cattle calve
Still set to scratch a laughter from my lung,
I would not fear the apple nor the flood
Nor the bad blood of spring.

Shall it be male or female? say the cells,
And drop the plum like fire from the flesh.
If I were tickled by the hatching hair,
The winging bone that sprouted in the heels,
The itch of man upon the baby's thigh,
I would not fear the gallows nor the axe
Nor the crossed sticks of war.

Shall it be male or female? say the fingers
That chalk the walls with green girls and their men.
I would not fear the muscling-in of love
If I were tickled by the urchin hungers
Rehearsing heat upon a raw-edged nerve.
I would not fear the devil in the loin
Nor the outspoken grave.

If I were tickled by the lovers' rub
That wipes away not crow's-foot nor the lock
Of sick old manhood on the fallen jaws,
Time and the crabs and the sweethearting crib
Would leave me cold as butter for the flies
The sea of scums could drown me as it broke
Dead on the sweethearts' toes.

This world is half the devil's and my own,
Daft with the drug that's smoking in a girl
And curling round the bud that forks her eye.
An old man's shank one-marrowed with my bone,
And all the herrings smelling in the sea,
I sit and watch the worm beneath my nail
Wearing the quick away.

And that's the rub, the only rub that tickles.
The knobbly ape that swings along his sex
From damp love-darkness and the nurse's twist
Can never raise the midnight of a chuckle,
Nor when he finds a beauty in the breast
Of lover, mother, lovers, or his six
Feet in the rubbing dust.

And what's the rub? Death's feather on the nerve?
Your mouth, my love, the thistle in the kiss?
My Jack of Christ born thorny on the tree?
The words of death are dryer than his stiff,
My wordy wounds are printed with your hair.
I would be tickled by the rub that is:
Man be my metaphor.


Comments about If I Were Tickled By The Rub Of Love by Dylan Thomas

  • Wes Vogler Wes Vogler (2/28/2016 6:49:00 PM)

    I wonder if he was drunk at the time and never got around to doing a re-write. Probably just my lack of sophistication. anyone? (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Susan Williams Susan Williams (2/28/2016 4:04:00 PM)

    “If I Were Tickled by the Rub of Love” is about the nature of human sexuality and its impact on Christian values and vice versa. That is a complex issue for the moral man. Makes many of us wish for the long ago innocence of childhood before the onset of passion and desire. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis Edward Kofi Louis (2/28/2016 1:53:00 AM)

    Life and love! Along the farm land with your adventures. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty Pranab K Chakraborty (2/28/2016 12:24:00 AM)

    This world is half the devil's and my own, ...........................

    No more talking needed to appreciate a piece of any creative art. Unique indeed. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Jani Brian Jani (4/26/2014 1:54:00 AM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine oit (Report) Reply

    Kim Barney (2/28/2016 3:10:00 PM)

    He can't check yours 'oit'; he died in 1953.

  • Jon Anderson (5/29/2013 10:39:00 AM)

    There is a typo in the second line of the third stanza. greet girls should be green girls. Someone please fix this. Take note. (Report) Reply

  • Andrew Quintana (9/28/2009 9:24:00 PM)

    Wonderfully odd poem about the complexities of growing as human beings in love and life. I also liked the biblical allusions. Very capturing and odd. (Report) Reply

Read all 8 comments »



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Read poems about / on: metaphor, fear, girl, hair, baby, sick, sea, laughter, death, war, kiss, spring, tree, mother, red, beauty, fire, love



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Wednesday, May 29, 2013


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