Dylan Thomas

(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953 / Swansea / Wales)

Ears in the Turrets Hear


Ears in the turrets hear
Hands grumble on the door,
Eyes in the gables see
The fingers at the locks.
Shall I unbolt or stay
Alone till the day I die
Unseen by stranger-eyes
In this white house?
Hands, hold you poison or grapes?

Beyond this island bound
By a thin sea of flesh
And a bone coast,
The land lies out of sound
And the hills out of mind.
No birds or flying fish
Disturbs this island’s rest.

Ears in this island hear
The wind pass like a fire,
Eyes in this island see
Ships anchor off the bay.
Shall I run to the ships
With the wind in my hair,
Or stay till the day I die
And welcome no sailor?
Ships, hold you poison or grapes?

Hands grumble on the door,
Ships anchor off the bay,
Rain beats the sand and slates.
Shall I let in the stranger,
Shall I welcome the sailor,
Or stay till the day I die?

Hands of the stranger and holds of the ships,
Hold you poison or grapes?

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Zach D (6/2/2012 10:37:00 PM)

    I think the poem is about isolation. The white house and the island are literally the speaker's body. The thin sea of flesh is literally, his skin, the bone coast, his skull, with his mind inside. The flesh and skull create a physical barrier from the outside world that represents the figurative barriers between him and society. The poison or grapes represent bad things or good things that are in the outside world. The way the speaker is questioning is really quite immature, he is assuming that the hands and holds contain only poison or grapes, or that society contains only good or evil. However this is not the case, but since the speaker has been living in this mental isolation, he does not realize this. By wondering whether he should let in the stranger or welcome the sailor, the speaker is wondering whether or not he should try to end his isolation. (Report) Reply

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