The Gossipers | Dylan Thomas #poem

Image: iStock | George Marks

I have just started reading Mrs March: A Novel by Virginia Feito. Her epigraph is the first two lines of a Dylan Thomas poem from 1932. Thomas was only 17 when he wrote this poem. It wasn’t published until after his death in Dylan Thomas: The Notebook Poems 1930-1934 edited by Ralph Maud (1989).

The Gossipers

The gossipers have lowered their voices, 
Willing words to make the rumours certain,
Suspicious hands tug at neighbouring vices,
Unthinking actions given causes
Stir their old bones behind cupboards and curtain.

Putting two and two together,
Informed by rumour and the register,
The virgins smelt out, three streets up,
A girl whose single bed held two
To make ends meet,
Found managers and widows wanting
In morals and full marriage bunting,
And other virgins in official fathers.

For all the inconvenience they make,
The trouble, devildom, and heartbreak,
The withered women win them bedfellows.
Nightly upon their wrinkled breasts
Press the old lies and the old ghosts.

George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.

A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of
olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book –
a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.

One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one
that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.

A razor-sharp exploration of the fragility of identity and the smothering weight of expectations.

Publisher’s blurb

This post is part of A Poem For a Thursday with Jennifer @Holds Upon Happiness.

This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our first storytellers.

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