Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green, The night above the dingle starry, Time let me hail and climb Golden in the heydays of his eyes, And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves Trail with daisies and barley Down the rivers of the windfall light. And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home, In the sun that is young once only, Time let me play and be Golden in the mercy of his means, And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold, And the sabbath rang slowly In the pebbles of the holy streams. All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air And playing, lovely and watery And fire green as grass. And nightly under the simple stars As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away, All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars Flying with the ricks, and the horses Flashing into the dark. And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all Shining, it was Adam and maiden, The sky gathered again And the sun grew round that very day. So it must have been after the birth of the simple light In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm Out of the whinnying green stable On to the fields of praise. And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long, In the sun born over and over, I ran my heedless ways, My wishes raced through the house high hay And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs Before the children green and golden Follow him out of grace, Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand, In the moon that is always rising, Nor that riding to sleep I should hear him fly with the high fields And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land. Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means, Time held me green and dying Though I sang in my chains like the sea. – Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
He attained that peak in a number of his writings, actually, not just this one piece. I also picked this poem because of the reminiscences of a childhood which was truly innocent, and because the last few lines of the fourth verse always suggest Christmas to me – though that is not stated, and I think was almost certainly not the poet's intention.
It is well-known that he was a heavy drinker who died quite young after a turbulent life, from illness exacerbated by the effects of alcohol. You can check the details in his Wikipedia entry. While not meaning to gloss over that sad fact, I'd like to focus right now on his brilliant talent. He left us not only a number of wonderful poems but also the radio play Under Milkwood which many consider his masterpiece. He was Welsh of course, and the play is a loving and very entertaining recreation of Welsh village life.
You can get a free download of Richard Burton (another Welshman)'s acclaimed reading of the play as an Audiobook here. Or you can listen to it here, on YouTube. It's long, but marvellous. You can read Thomas's poems at PoemHunter and you can find his books of poetry, short stories and the play on Amazon, along with a volume of his love letters.
I featured another of his poems, my all-time favourite, in 'I Wish I'd Written This' back in September 2012.
Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright). This photo by Gabriel Hackett of Dylan Thomas at Gotham Book Mart New York City in 1952 is used according to Fair Use.