Should Lanterns Shine

Should lanterns shine, the holy face,

Caught in an octagon of unaccustomed light,

Would wither up, and any boy of love

Look twice before he fell from grace.

The features in their private dark

Are formed of flesh, but let the false day come

And from her lips the added pigments fall,

The mummy cloths expose an ancient breast.

 

I have been taught to reason by the heart,

But heart, like head, leads helplessly;

I have been told to reason by the pulse,

And, when it quickens, alter the actions’ pace

Till field and roof lie level and the same

So fast I move defying time, the quiet gentleman

Whose beard wags in Egyptian wind.

 

I have heard many years of telling,

And many years should see some change.

 

The ball I threw while playing in the park

Has not yet reached the ground.

Dylan Thomas, “Should Lanterns Shine” from The Poems of Dylan Thomas (New Directions, 2014)