The view from Laugharne Castle across the Estuary - a view that Dylan Marlais Thomas knew every ripple, sandbbar, pool and shadow of. He was born today, 27th October, 1914, at No. 5 Cwmdonkin Drive in Swansea, and died, aged just 39, on the 9th November 1953, in New York. 2014 will be the centenary of his birth so I imagine there will be special celebrations in our part of Wales. His biography is well-covered on Wikipedia . . . LINK
Poem in October
It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
In the still sleeping town and set forth.
My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.
A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.
Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
Away but the weather turned around.
It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels
And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Still in the water and singingbirds.
And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.
Such a beautiful poem. Sometimes he wrote so lyrically and the magic of his words is beyond compare, but other of his poems seem unfathomable to me. We never studied him at school, nor was his work included in the A-level equivalent I did, or I might have understood him more. So today I shall just have to think of his brief life and wonder to what heights he might have risen had he joined the Temperance Society . . . .
The village of Laugharne, where Dylan and Caitlan Thomas lived for some years and where the poet was buried.
HERE the great Richard Burton reads the first voice in Under Milk Wood. It gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.
“A tiny dingle is Milk Wood
By Golden Grove ‘neath Grongar,
But let me choose and oh! I should
Love all my life and longer
To stroll among our trees and stray
In Goosegog Lane, on Donkey Down,
And hear the Dewi sing all day,
And never, never leave the town.”
You learn something new every day. Until I was listening to Richard Burton's rendition of Under Milk Wood just now, I never knew I lived so close to Milk Wood - or indeed, that it was a real place. Golden Grove 'neath Grongar (hill) is in the Towy Valley close by us here. Well well. Now I must seek out Milk Wood . . .
The little tidal stream at the edge of the car park at Laugharne.