Discover Dylan Thomas Map of Love 2018-03-04T17:44:15+00:00

The Map of Love was a mixture of poetry and prose and was published in 1939.  Like the previous two collections, it also included a number of revised versions of poems from Dylan’s teenage notebooks.  The sixteen poems were included again in his Collected Poems (1952).  The poems are still in print in both The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.

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  • When was it written: January/February 1939
    When and where it was first published: Twentieth Century Verse, Feb 1939, Delta, Easter 1939, The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    Because the pleasure-bird whistles after the hot wires,
    Shall the blind horse sing sweeter?
    Convenient bird and beast lie lodged to suffer
    The supper an knives of a mood.
  • Further information: This poem looks back at the previous year and looks at some of the darker events of 1938, in particular the Munich Agreement and the potential dreadful consequences of it. It had an earlier title of ‘January 1939’ and seemed appropriate to be the prologue for The Map of Love.
  • When was it written: July-November 1937
    When and where it was first published: Twentieth Century verse, January-February 1938 with the title ‘Poem’ (For Caitlin),
    The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    I make this a warring absence when
    Each ancient, stone-necked minute of love’s season
    Harbours my anchored tongue, slips the quaystone,
    When, praise is blessed, her pride in mast and fountain
    Sailed and set dazzling by the handshaped ocean,
    In that proud sailing tree with branches driven
    Through the last vault and vegetable groin,
    And this week house to marrow-columned heaven.
  • Further information: Dylan started writing this poem just after marrying Caitlin Macnamara. Earlier titles of the poem were: ‘Poem to Caitlin’ and ‘Poem for Caitlin’. In a letter to a fan, Dylan described the poem as follows.

    ‘The poem is, in the first place, supposed to be a document, or narrative, of all emotional events between the coming and going, the creation and dissipation, of jealousy, jealousy born by pride, killed by pride, between the absence and the return of the crucial character (or heroine) of the narrative, between the war of her absence and the armistice of her presence.’

  • When was it written: Late 1937 or early 1938 and revised in May 1939
    When and where it was first published: Poetry (Chicago) August 1938,
    The Map of Love (1939) Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    When all my five and country senses see,
    The fingers will forget green thumbs and mark
    How, through the half-moon’s vegetable eye,
    Husk of young stars and handfull zodiac.
  • Further information: This appears to be a revised early poem (perhaps from the missing 1932 notebook) and looks at the subject of impending fatherhood.
  • When was it written: November 1936
    When and where it was first published: Twentieth Century Verse, January 1937,
    The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    It is the sinners’ dust-tongued bell claps me to churches
    When, with his torch and hourglass, like a sulphur priest,
    His beast heel cleft in a sandal,
    Time marks a black aisle kindle from the brand of ashes,
    Grief with dishevelled hands tear out the altar ghost
    And a firewood kill the candle.
  • Further information: This was the first poem Dylan completed after the publication of Twenty-five Poems.
  • When was it written: March 1933 and revised in November 1937
    When and where it was first published: Life and Letters Today, September 1938, Poetry (Chicago), August 1938, The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    O make me a mask and a wall to shut from your spies
    Of the sharp, enamelled eyes and the spectacled claws
    Rape and rebellion in the nurseries of my face.
  • Further information: The first version of this poem was notebook 3, poem ‘eighteen’. It was throughly rewritten but kept the same theme of a mask as a defence of the inner self.
  • When was it written: 27 January 1931 and revised in November 1937
    When and where it was first published: Wales, March 1938,
    Poetry (Chicago), August 1938, The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    The spire cranes. Its statue is an aviary.
    From the stone nest it does not let the feathery
    Carved birds blunt their striking throats on the salt gravel.
  • Further information: This started as notebook 2, poem ‘IX’. The structure was revised but the overall poem remained similar to the original.
  • When was it written: February 10 1933 and revised in March/April 1938
    When and where it was first published: Life and Letters Today, Summer 1938,
    The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    After the funeral, mule praises, brays,
    Windhoek of sailshaped ears, muffle-toed tap
    Tap happily of one peg in the thick
    Grave’s foot, blinds down the lids, the teeth in black.
  • Further information: This poem was written in memory of Dylan’s aunt Annie Jones who had died of cancer in 1933. It was notebook 3, poem ‘six’ and rewritten in March 1938 for publication.
  • When was it written: April 20 1933 and revised in January 1938
    When and where it was first published: Poetry (Chicago) in August 1938,
    The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    Not from this anger, anticlimax after
    Refusal struck her loin and the lame flower
    Bent like a beast to lap the singular floods
    In a land strapped by hunger.
  • Further information: This started as notebook 3, poem ‘Twenty-five’ and was cut down considerably.
  • When was it written: 9 December 1930 and revised in 1938
    When and where it was first published: Criterion, October 1938,
    Prose and Poetry 1938, The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    How shall my animal
    Whose wizard shape I trace in the cavernous skull,
    Vessel of abscesses and exultation’s shell,
    Endure burial under the spelling wall,
    The invoked, shrouding veil at the cap of the face,
    Who should be furious.
  • Further information: This started as notebook 1, poem ’42’ with the first line, ‘How shall the animal’ instead of ‘How shall my animal’. The rewritten poem of 1938 was very different from the earlier one.
  • When was it written: July 1933 (September 1938)
    When and where it was first published: Seven (Winter 1938), Voice of Scotland (December-February 1938/9), Poetry (Chicago), November 1939, The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    The tombstone told when she died.
    Her two surnames stopped me still.
    A virgin married at rest.
    She married in this pouring place,
    That I struck one day by luck,
    Before I heard in my mother’s side
    Or saw in the looking-glass shell
    The rain through her cold heart speak
    And the sun killed in her face.
    More the thick stone cannot tell.
  • Further information: This poem apparently came from a story Dylan heard of a Welsh farmer’s bride dying in her wedding dress. It started as notebook 3, poem ‘thirty-six’ and was revised in 1938.
  • When was it written: February 1933 and revised in September 1938
    When and where it was first published: Wales, March 1939,
    The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    Oh no work of words now for three lean months in the bloody
    Belly of the rich year and the big purse of my body
    I bitterly take to task my poverty and craft.
  • Further information: This started as notebook 3, poem ‘eight’ before being revised in 1938. The theme of the poem is frustration at writer’s block and the belief that a poet has been given the responsibility to share his talents and creations.
  • When was it written: Autumn 1938
    When and where it was first published: Poetry (London) February 1939,
    The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    A saint about to fall,
    The stained flats of heaven hit and razed
    To the kissed kite hems of his shawl,
    On the last street wave praised
    The unwinding, song by rock,
    Of the woven wall.
  • Further information: This poem was written with the birth of Dylan’s first child in mind – telling the child the ugly world it may see. War at this point was inevitable following the signing of the Munich Agreement.
  • When was it written: Winter 1939
    When and where it was first published: Poetry (London), April 1939,
    The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    If my head hurt a hair’s foot
    Pack back the downed bone. If the unpicked ball of my breath
    Bump on a spout let the bubbles jump out.
    Sooner drop with the worm of the ropes round my throat
    Than bully ill love in the clouted scene.
  • Further information: This poem was written around the time of the birth of Dylan’s first child. This is what Dylan said when he introduced the poem on the BBC.

    ‘The next poem tells of a mother and her child who is about to be born. It is not a narrative, nor an argument, but a series of conflicting images which move through pity and violence to an unreconciled acceptance of suffering: the mother’s and the child’s.’

  • When was it written: Autumn 1938
    When and where it was first published: Life and Letters Today, December 1938,
    The Map of Love (1939) and Dylan’s Collected Poems (1952)
  • Where you can find it now: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, The New Centenary Edition, edited by John Goodby (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Omnibus (2014), both published by Orion.
  • Excerpt:
    Twenty-four years remind the tears of my eyes.
    (Bury the dead for fear that they walk to the grave in labour.)
    In the groin of the natural doorway I crouched like a tailor
    Sewing a shroud for a journey
    By the light of the meat-eating sun.
  • Further information: This poem was written on a postcard to Vernon Watkins, and sent on 24 October 1938 (three days before his twenty-fourth birthday) and is considered another of Dylan’s birthday poems.