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An anthem to childhood

This year marks the centenary of the birth of wonderful poet and playwright, Dylan Thomas. Several months ago, I discovered a new poem by him called Being But Men. Astonishingly, Thomas never rated this poem highly himself and declined to have it included in his first anthology of poems in the 1950’s. For me, Being But Men is an anthem to childhood and encapsulates why I cherish working with children; because young people have retained those magical elements of curiosity and fearlessness that fades as we grow older.

I love this poem on many levels, but at its core, it is an invitation to celebrate and harness the unique creative energies that children possess. Here it is:

Being but Men
Being but men, we walked into the trees
Afraid, letting our syllables be soft
For fear of waking the rooks,
For fear of coming
Noiselessly into a world of wings and cries.
 
If we were children we might climb,
Catch the rooks sleeping, and break no twig,
And, after the soft ascent,
Thrust out our heads above the branches
To wonder at the unfailing stars.
Out of confusion, as the way is,
And the wonder, that man knows,
Out of the chaos would come bliss.
That, then, is loveliness, we said,
Children in wonder watching the stars,
Is the aim and the end.
Being but men, we walked into the trees. 
Dylan Thomas

 

(Below artwork by Nikki McClure)

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