This poem is not gentle. I always feel a bit bruised on reading it. But the language is so delicious, so cosmically expansive that for me it’s like a fiery Szechuan dish spiced to the point of pain but whose flavor is so sumptuous I am seduced to return to it again and again.
The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower by Dylan Thomas
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
[Listen to Charles Wright read his “When You’re Lost in Juarez in the Rain and It’s Easter Time Too”]