Last of the three "Thomas brothers", Dylan, extravagant, intoxicated muse of Swansea. I offer you this poem, along with my best wishes for the year ahead - may enough of your hopes and wishes be realised to keep the hard and gem like flame of your life burning brightly - but may there always be new castles to capture. This poem reminds us that time, forceful, driving, irrisistible time, is rushing past with a logic that is entirely its own, not ours. You may think this a sad thought for a New Year, but it is a challenging and exciting one, too. This is Dylan Thomas' Hold hard, these ancient minutes:
Hold hard, these ancient minutes in the cuckoo's month,
Under the lank, fourth folly on Glamorgan's hill,
As the green blooms ride upward, to the drive of time;
Time, in a folly's rider, like a county man
Over the vault of ridings with his hound at heel,
Drives forth my men, my children, from the hanging south.
Country, your sport is summer, and December's pools
By crane and water-tower by the seedy trees
Lie this fifth month unskated, and the birds have flown;
Holy hard, my country children in the world if tales,
The greenwood dying as the deer fall in their tracks,
The first and steepled season, to the summer's game.
And now the horns of England, in the sound of shape,
Summon your snowy horsemen, and the four-stringed hill,
Over the sea-gut loudening, sets a rock alive;
Hurdles and guns and railings, as the boulders heave,
Crack like a spring in vice, bone breaking April,
Spill the lank folly's hunter and the hard-held hope.
Down fall four padding weathers on the scarlet lands,
Stalking my children's faces with a tail of blood,
Time, in a rider rising, from the harnessed valley;
Hold hard, my country darlings, for a hawk descends,
Golden Glamorgan straightens, to the falling birds.
Your sport is summer as the spring runs angrily.