Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 711
In this short story, Dylan Thomas captures the bravado, friendship, and artistic dreams of his youthful days in Swansea. The story opens with the young schoolboy Dylan teasing old Mr. Samuels. The boys from the school keep Mr. Samuels on guard against their throwing apples and balls into his window. While Dylan rudely stares at the old man, suddenly a strange boy pushes Dylan down an embankment. They proceed to fight, the stranger receiving a bloody nose and Dylan a black eye.
Their battle quickly makes them allies as they see Mr. Samuels egging them on. They both throw gravel at the old man and walk off together as comrades. Dylan’s newfound friend, Dan Jenkyn, says that Dylan has “the best black eye in Wales,” and Dylan admires his friend’s bloody nose.
Dylan spends the rest of the day glorying in his battle scar, enjoying the respect of the local girls and the boys at school. The young boys’ conversation at school then turns to their dreams of owning expensive automobiles, large houses, and harems with “the girls in the gym,” and of smoking fancy cigarettes.
That evening, before he visits his new friend, Dylan describes the small world of his bedroom: It is clearly the room of a young poet, with pictures of William Shakespeare, Walter de la Mare, Robert Browning, Rupert Brooke, and John Greenleaf Whittier (among others) hanging on his walls. He also has a copy of a poem he has published in the newspaper, pasted on his mirror.
As he walks along the street toward Dan’s house, Dylan recites aloud his romantic verse. When he sees a young couple approaching, he quickly changes his recitation into a tune and hums his way past them. As he nears the house, he hears music coming from it and expresses his admiration for Dan’s accomplishments: “He was a composer and a poet too; he had written seven historical novels before he was twelve.”
Dan proceeds to play some musical pieces for Dylan, and the young poet, in turn, reads to him from an exercise-book full of his poems. The two boys seem to enjoy the prospect of an artistic future “spread out beyond the window.” While they are waiting for supper to be ready, they imagine that they will edit a magazine together—The Thunderer. Then Dan suggests that they look at the bedroom of the family maid. As the call for supper reaches them, Dan promises that one day they will hide under her bed.
Besides Dan’s parents, at the dinner table are their friends, the Reverend Bevan and his wife. The two boys enjoy indulging in rather profane thoughts, as when Dylan, struck by the gray-haired and gray-faced Mrs. Bevan, imagines that she might be all gray. He proceeds to undress her in his mind but cannot bring himself to go beyond the navy bloomers to her knees.
When it is revealed that Dylan is a poet, Mr. Bevan asks him to recite one of his poems. Embarrassed by the request, Dylan nevertheless begins to say aloud one of his poems filled with images of lust and violence, until Dan kicks him under the table. Mr. Bevan pretends to content himself with recognizing Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as the influence on the boy’s poem, but he and the Jenkyns are obviously shocked.
Back in Dan’s room, the boys discuss Mrs. Bevan. Dan tells him that she is mad and once attempted to jump from the upstairs window of his house. At this point, she enters the room and the boys open the window and coax her to jump out, but she merely sits there awaiting her husband. The boys grow tired of watching her, Dan plays one more tune on the piano, and Dylan says his good-byes and walks out of the house with Dan. They look toward the upstairs window and see Mrs. Bevan’s face pressed to the glass. Half afraid that she might jump, they run down the street and say their good-byes to each other. Dan says that he needs to finish a string trio tonight, and Dylan announces that he is busy working on a long poem “about the princes of Wales and the wizards and everybody.”
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