“Then Was My Neophyte” by Dylan Thomas
by Kit Anderson
Then was my neophyte,
Child in white blood bent on its knees
Under the bell of rocks,
Ducked in the twelve, disciple seas
The winder of the water-clocks
Calls a green day and night.
My sea hermaphrodite,
Snail of man in His ship of fires
That burn the bitten decks,
Knew all His horrible desires
The climber of the water sex
Calls the green rock of light.
Who in these labyrinths,
This tidethread and the lane of scales,
Twine in a moon-blown shell,
Escapes to the flat cities’ sails
Furled on the fishes’ house and hell,
Nor falls to His green myths?
Stretch the salt photographs,
The landscape grief, love in His oils
Mirror from man to whale
That the green child see like a grail
Through veil and fin and fire and coil
Time on the canvas paths.
He films my vanity.
Shot in the wind, by tilted arcs,
Over the water come
Children from homes and children’s parks
Who speak on a finger and thumb,
And the masked, headless boy.
His reels and mystery
The winder of the clockwise scene
Wound like a ball of lakes
Then threw on that tide-hoisted screen
Love’s image till my heartbone breaks
By a dramatic sea.
Who kills my history?
The year-hedged row is lame with flint,
Blunt scythe and water blade.
‘Who could snap off the shapeless print
From your to-morrow-treading shade
With oracle for eye?’
Time kills me terribly.
‘Time shall not murder you,’ He said,
‘Nor the green nought be hurt;
Who could hack out your unsucked heart,
O green and unborn and undead?’
I saw time murder me.