Monday, May 12, 2008

This story's monster has a serpent caul: Dylan Thomas on the Crocodile

Almost a week of further investigation in good weather and at Fendrod Lake as well has revealed NO further sign of the Croc at least not in life. However he has turned up in the work of Swansea's most famous bard Dylan Thomas. One example is in a short poem to an insect To-Day, This Insect which makes for interesting reading in this extract:

The insect certain is the plague of fables.

This story's monster has a serpent caul,
Blind in the coil scrams round the blazing outline,
Measures his own length on the garden wall
And breaks his shell in the last shocked beginning;
A crocodile before the chrysalis,
Before the fall from love the flying heartbone,
Winged like a sabbath ass this children's piece
Uncredited blows Jericho on Eden.

As noted before Pluck Lake is noted as a refuge for dragonflies which this poem is perhaps addressing. With such allusive verse who can say.

In the poem
I, In My Intricate Image the last three stanzas state:

And in the pincers of the boiling circle,
The sea and instrument, nicked in the locks of time,
My great blood's iron single
In the pouring town,
I, in a wind on fire, from green Adam's cradle,
No man more magical, clawed out the crocodile.

Man was the scales, the death birds on enamel,
Tail, Nile, and snout, a saddler of the rushes,
Time in the hourless houses
Shaking the sea-hatched skull,
And, as for oils and ointments on the flying grail,
All-hollowed man wept for his white apparel.

Man was Cadaver's masker, the harnessing mantle,
Windily master of man was the rotten fathom,
My ghost in his metal neptune
Forged in man's mineral.
This was the god of beginning in the intricate seawhirl,
And my images roared and rose on heaven's hill.

What adds to the mysterious coincidences here is that the main other non-native element in Pluck Lake is terrapins. Earlier in the poem he uses the line:

They suffer the undead water where the turtle nibbles,
Come unto sea-stuck towers, at the fibre scaling,
The flight of the carnal skull

The poem describes a combination of mechanical and natural imagery very appropriate to the area which is reclaimed from Swansea's industrial history. Also interesting to note that the poem describes a mighty hill like Kilvey Hill:

They climb the country pinnacle,
Twelve winds encounter by the white host at pasture,
Corner the mounted meadows in the hill corral;
They see the squirrel stumble,

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