Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London

- Dylan Thomas

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking 
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child’s death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further 
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London’s daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

from: The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Copyright 1952.


  1. I sometimes think this is his best poem. It's the first one I thought of when I finished reading Nick Harkaway's novel Tigerman.

    1. A number of people have recommended Tigerman, but I haven't read it yet. It's one of those stories for which I need to steel myself before reading.