Tuesday, 13 May 2008

In search of Dylan Thomas

The first time that Poet-in-Residence visited the Boat House home of the late Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, was the time, many years ago, when Dylan's Irish wife Caitlin, then married to an Italian nobleman, passed away in distant Italy. Her last will & testament left instructions, surprising to the family of the noble Italian (but not to the poetic Welsh) that she be united with her poet-husband in the gentle sloping graveyard on the hillside at Laugharne in Wales. A small wooden cross marks the grave; his name on one side and her name on the other; together like two kippers in a box.
During P-i-R's first visit to the Boat House a curious poltergeist incident took place; a high rail holding up a tapestry suddenly flung itself to the ground, batting the wall as it went down. There were 8 or so witnesses to this incident. It happened during the TV showing of a video about the life of Dylan Thomas in an upstairs room.
P-i-R's recent 3rd visit found watercolour paintings 'for sale' on the walls of that upstairs room. No sign of the ghostly pole or tapestry! So did P-i-R, as he hoped to do, once again detect the spirit of Dylan Thomas?
The answer is probably in the affirmative. Strolling up the hill on a May morning from the graveside, through the sapling trees, onto the farmland overlooking the estuary in a singsong of birds, each reciting its own poem, P-i-R felt that Dylan Thomas was somehow there, somehow alive and singing. The sun shone brightly , the birds sang like heroes and the herons stood like statues. There in that place, on that small hill, this researcher found and was certainly touched by something; possibly the force that drives the green fuse or in other words that something that inspired the poetry of Dylan Thomas...the poet for whom death shall have no dominion.

from Poem on his Birthday

In the mustardseed sun,
By full tilt river and switchback sea
Where the cormorants scud,
In his house on stilts high among beaks
And palavers of birds
This sandgrain day in the bent bay's grave
He celebrates and spurns
His driftwood thirty-fifth wind turned age;
herons spire and spear.

Under and round him go
Flounders, gulls, on their cold, dying trails,
Doing what they are told,
Curlews aloud in the congered waves
Work at their ways to death,
And the rhymer in the long tongued room,
Who tolls his birthday bell,
Toils towards the ambush of his wounds;
Herons, steeple stemmed, bless.

. . .

I hear the bouncing hills
Grow larked and greener at berry brown
Fall and the dew larks sing
Taller this thunderclap spring, and how
More spanned with angels ride
The mansouled fiery islands! oh,
Holier then their eyes,
And my shining men no more alone
As I sail out to die.

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