Wings

I discovered another reason I like Dylan Thomas’ poem “Among those Killed in the Dawn Raid was a Man Aged A Hundred”.  The title pretty much tells the story.  I think a World War II bombing raid is referred to.  Near the end of the poem is an exhortation and a beautiful image:

O keep his bones away from that common cart,

The morning is flying on the wings of his age…

Thomas is echoing and inverting another beautiful, and also ancient image found in Psalm 139 on the omniscience of God (and maybe other sources)

If I take the wings of the morning

And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even then shall thy hand lead me

And thy right hand shall hold me.

In the psalm the speaker is only rhetorically claiming the wings of a higher, possibly angelic order of creation.  (“Even if I had this power, which I don’t, God would be inescapable, so how much more intimately do I depend on him as things are?”)

 

The ending of Thomas’ poem appropriates this heavenly power for humanity.  They are his wings; the murdered man’s age and dignity is what gives this shocking morning its terrible vividness.

Advertisements