Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Bard

Poetry seems to be in the air at present and although Dylan Thomas’s ‘Under Milk Wood‘ is a play he wrote for radio I always think of it as poetry –‘Words were his music.’
The play was about an imaginary village – Llareggub - which is Bugger all spelt backwards. Quite a long time ago a group of us – led by an exciting young Welshman - did a number of performances of UMW and we all came to love the rich earthy characters and found more and more meanings as we learnt his wondrous words.

I was thrilled to find it on You tube read both by Dylan himself and Richard Burton. I’ve chosen the latter although Dylan has a strange sonorous voice well suited to his poetry. He died aged 39 – an alcoholic - having just had a sustained bout of American hospitality and experienced a vicious smog which attacked his lungs.
He had a talented wife - Caitlin - and like Scott Fitsgerald and Zelda, together they were a doomed couple.

He was a tragic/ comic figure and I remember him reading ‘Ode to Shaint Sheshilia’
(Ode to Saint Cecilia) on the radio when he was drunk as a skunk. Other gems were ‘Fern Hill' and ‘Do not go gently into that good night.’ - a poem he wrote as his father was dying.

If this recording leaves you wanting more there are Parts two and three. If the recording doesn’t work for you the URL is:


Jimmy Bastard said...

...another gem indeed.

"Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying,
Though I sang in my chains like the sea."

Pat, Thomas looked through many a similiar window of life to that of Burton.

Queenie said...

I loooove Dylan Thomas. He wrote some good short stories, too.

Eryl Shields said...

Thanks for this hon, I don't have time to watch it now but will come back, I love DT.

Last year my sister-in-law read a bio of his wife and thought the two of them such foul characters it nearly put her off his poetry, at one stage she was ready to burn his books!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Years and Years ago, friends did a production of "UNDER MILKWOOD" and yje Director wanted me to be in it...I wasn't able to do it because of a secere back problem....And in truth, when I went to see it, I had trouble with the "meaning"...Perhaps it was that particular production, I don't know.

I knew He died young, but I didn't remember that he was THAT young...! So Sad.

PI said...

Jimmy: now you point it out I agree. At least Burton survived a little longer.

Queenie: yes I've only scratched the surface.

Eryl: they were a prime example of destructive love - jealous of each other's talent and oozing Celtic gloom. But brilliant writers are often not 'nice' people - with some notable exceptions of course:)

Naomi: the language is such that I think one has to be really familiar with it - ideally reading it out loud - to fully appreciate it. What a shame you couldn't take part.

lom said...

I love under milk wood, it was the first experance of Dylan Thomas

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Oh God spare us from Welsh poets.

PI said...

Lom: It certainly seems to be very popular.

Leigh Russell said...

I love Dylan Thomas (ironically his initials are DT) and Richard Burton's reading of UMW is sublime. (I thought I'd already commented here but the gremlins seem to have ignored me.)

PI said...

Daphne: now why doesn't that surprise me. You are awful but I like you:)

Leigh: delighted to have you visit. Reading about your launch party reminded me of when I first started writing seriously and carefully selected a couple of suits suitable for a launch party. That was thirty years ago and the suits are long gone - unlaunched.
It makes it worthwhile slogging away when I read of your success and I shall continue to slog away to the bitter end:)

Kanani said...

Thomas was the most gifted and natural poet of his time.
I think his "Do not go gentle" is the best vilanelle EVER written.
I think I read that he had been in an alcoholic coma for 4 days before dying in NYC. Anyway, sad ending to a great poet.

PI said...

Kanani: It was going to happen in any case - sadly.