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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Holding hands with poetry

After Hay our quartet has traditionally travelled the nearby countryside which is mercifully unknown to 98.7% of the British population. This time the weather forced us down the Pembroke peninsula (in Wales) to escape the rain.

Our aims were vague. Mumbles, despite its discouraging name, is beautiful, as is St David's Head. Glancing at the map my eye caught Laugharne on the Towy estuary. A bit of confusion here. I was pretty sure the village was associated with Dylan Thomas but he was puckish with names: the play for voices, Under Milk Mood, is set in Llareggub. Say that backwards and you'll get what I mean.

I drove to Laugharne anyway and was relieved to see signs pointing to Boat House, Dylan Thomas. The house name clicked. But would it be worth visiting? Not all writer's houses are. Henry James' long-standing residence, Lamb House, Rye, on the south coast was very disappointing. Not a stick of original furniture and not (very hard to take) a single book.

A further matter. Thomas was a poet: I'm aware of some names and some poems but it's not my field.

I'm glad to say it worked. A small isolated house below a cliff with a wide tidally-affected view. Lonely but close enough to the Laugharne boozer. A shed hanging from the access road where he worked.

Despite the marine environment it evoked his great poem:

Over Sir John's Hill,
The hawk on fire hangs still;
In a hoisted cloud, at drop of dusk, he pulls to his claws
And gallows, up the rays of his eyes the small birds of the bay


As Michelin would have it: Il vaut le voyage.

5 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

I recognised the picture immediately even though it was very small on my iPhone.

I visited during my 1000 mile walk round the Welsh boundary the year before last. Here are some snippets from my journal:

“Dylan Thomas died in 1953 and I left school in 1956 at which time Dylan was topical and his work had a great influence on me...

...the hut is locked up but you can look through the window and see the interior as it was with pictures of D. H. Lawrence, Augustus John and others stuck up at random. The setting overlooking the estuary with golden sands and blue sea is splendid...

...there were only a few people and the atmosphere was low key with nothing overdone, and I must say that I was moved by the experience”.

There was quite a lot more in my journal as my route followed Dylan’s walk that inspired his Poem in October recording his thirtieth birthday.

Ellena said...

I like his 'Do not go gentle....rage, rage, rage....poem.
Interesting intense but short life.
I read that a bronze statue is planned for 2014 to mark centenary of his birth.

The Crow said...

There is, absolutely no pun intended, poetry in the title of this post; true poetry in the images conjured by those four simple words.

I like it much.

Joe Hyam said...

I am glad you quote that poem because it is not too often quoted and is beautiful evocation of place. I was lucky enough to see and hear Dylan Thomas reading his poems on two occasions. His hands shook as he read, either from drink or nerves. Or perhaps from both.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: It seemed the perfect place for writing (with its detached shed just off the access road) and, since he was always short of money, I assumed he rented. But no. Some woman bought the house and gave him it. Those were the days.

Ellena: The bronze - I believe you are right. But that's now. In a sense, I was there then. During the thirties - when I was born, and he was at his most productive. If you haven't read Over Sir John's Hill please read it all. As a favour to me and yourself.

The Crow: As my mum would have said: I hivered and hovered, worried it didn't make literal sense. It seems it made a different kind of sense. That pleases me and I'm very happy it pleased you.

Joe: At the time I didn't know H. was in hospital. Now I do know I'm particularly glad I posted something that had a direct appeal to you.