Tony Walton

Rookie (4 March 1950 / London, England)

Portrait Of Dylan - Poem by Tony Walton

Laughing in Laugharne, and languishing too,
Anguishing over where inspiration had gone;
But time enough for a hand of cards at Browns
With Ivy and Ebie and Billy, his brother,
And always time for another pint. He downs
Too many, as usual, and weaves his way
Homeward to Caitlin and the children,
Rampaging around the sea-shaken
House on its breakneck of rocks by the bay.

John Malcolm Brinnis comes to take him away
From them, one last time, for ‘Under Milk Wood‘
At the YM-YWHA Poetry Center
In New York City; and the pity is
No one knows he will only return in his box.
Meanwhile, Rollie McKenna is here, with Leica
And Nikon and Rolleiflex: her reflexes sharpened
To these perfect pictures that will never die -
For, unlike poets sometimes, cameras cannot lie.

If I could tell his story like Edward Storey,
It would fire his glory clear across from
Little Sir John's Hill to the other side,
Through the pale rain, where the sea-wet church
Is slow as a snail with its horns in the mist.
But I have kissed my fist to the castle walls,
I have walked the green-railing path to the shed
Where he sat, days into years, prevailing in
The oh-so-very-slow gains, and the pains
Of singing in his chains like the sea.

Aeron and Llewelyn so curly-golden and
Adorable, so young and easy; Caitlin
So fine-boned and slender, with her yellow hair.
Yet it's easy to see the strain and the care
And the marks they make, and the trouble they take.
Were they unaware that this of him
Would live for ever, would sing unchained wherever
Hearts still hear and souls still ring like bells in wonder;
But they never had a chance to get out from under,
And the last whiskey bar of New York
Struck them asunder. Life's plunder for a lifetime
Of treasure uncovered: the measure of his greatness.
And our pleasure, our thrilling chilling pleasure.

Poet's Notes about The Poem

'Portrait of Dylan: A Photographer's Memoir' by Rollie McKenna, with an introduction by John Malcolm Brinnis, was first published in Britain in 1982 by J.M.Dent & Sons.

Comments about Portrait Of Dylan by Tony Walton

  • (10/9/2012 2:51:00 AM)

    the ending lines of this poem are exceptional. musical, perfectly balanced. you have a good voice
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Poem Submitted: Sunday, August 26, 2012

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