A girl whose single bed held two to make ends meet

Sunday, 26 October, 2014

If he had lived past 39, the “Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive”, as Dylan Thomas called himself, would be 100 years old tomorrow. The end came in New York when he drank 18 straight whiskies in the White Horse Tavern and announced “I think that’s the record.” He staggered outside, collapsed, was taken to the Chelsea Hotel, fell into a coma and died the next morning in St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Dylan Thomas loved words. In his unfinished Notes on the Art of Poetry, he wrote: “What the words stood for, symbolised, or meant, was of very secondary importance; what mattered was the sound of them as I heard them for the first time on the lips of the remote and incomprehensible grown-ups who seemed, for some reason, to be living in my world. And these words were, to me, as the notes of bells, the sounds of musical instruments, the noises of wind, sea, and rain, the rattle of milk-carts, the clopping of hooves on cobbles, the fingering of branches on a window pane, might be to someone, deaf from birth, who has miraculously found his hearing.”

But words, in the form of gossip, can be a cause of great hurt, too. As Shakespeare wrote in Henry IV Part 2 Act 1 Scene 1, “Enter RUMOUR, painted full of tongues.” Here’s now Thomas viewed those dishing the dirt.

The Gossipers

The gossipers have lowered their voices,
Willing words to make the rumours certain,
Suspicious words tug at the neighbouring vices,
Unthinking actions given causes
Stir their old bones behind cupboard and curtains.

Putting two and two together,
Informed by rumour and the register,
The virgins smelt out, three streets up,
A girl whose single bed held two
To make ends meet,
Found managers and widows wanting
In morals and full marriage bunting,
And other virgins in official fathers.

For all the inconveniences they make,
The trouble, devildom, and heartbreak
The withered women win them bedfellows,
Nightly upon their wrinkled breasts
Press the old lies and the old ghosts.

Dylan Thomas (27 October 1914 — 9 November 1953)

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