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What? No Aussie “Poetry” this Weekend then? ;-)

Well try some Fuckin right tidy aye Welsh stuff instead. What is described as a radio play in verse, but which I call a Movie for the Ears… The opening of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas…



To begin at the beginning…
It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and
bible black. The cobblestreets silent and the hunched,
courters’ and rabbits’ wood, limping invisibly down to the
sloe black, slow, black, crow black, fishing boat-bobbing
The houses are blind as moles, though moles see fine tonight
in the snouting, velvet dingles, or blind as Captain Cat there
in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the
shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widow’s weeds. And
all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping
Hush the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers, the
tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher, postman
and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman,
drunkard, dressmaker, preacher policeman, the webfoot
cockle women and the tidy wives.
Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams with rings
and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glow-worms down the
aisles of the organ-playing wood.
The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of
the night and the jollyrodgered sea.
And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields,
and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wet-nosed
yards; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly,
streaking and needling on the one cloud of the roofs.
You can hear the dew falling and the hushed town breathing.

Only your eyes are unclosed to see the black and folded
town, fast and slow asleep. And you alone can hear the
invisible starfall, the darkest-before dawn minutely
dewgrazed stir of the black dab-filled sea where the
Arethusa, the Curlew and the Skylark, Zanzibar, Rhianon,
the Rover, the Cormorant, and the Star of Wales tilt and
Listen. It is night moving in the streets, the processional salt
slow musical wind in Coronation Street and Cockle Row, it
is the grass growing on Llaregyb Hill, dewfall, starfall, the
sleep of birds in Milk Wood.
Listen… It is night in the chill, squat chapel, hymning in
bonnet and brooch and bombazine black, butterfly choker
and bootlace bow, coughing like nanny goats, sucking
mintoes, fortywinking hallelujah; night in the four-ale quiet as
a domino; in Ocky Milkman’s lofts like a mouse with gloves;
in Dai Bread’s bakery flying like black flour.
It is tonight in Donkey Street trotting silent with seaweed on
its hooves, along the cockled cobbles, past curtained
fernpot, text and trinket, harmonium, holy dresser, water
colours done by hand, china dog, rosy tin tea caddy.
It is night neddying among the snuggeries of babies.
Look. It is night, dumbly, royally winding through the
Coronation cherry trees; going through the graveyard of
Bethesda with winds gloved and folded, and dew doffed;
tumbling by the Sailors Arms.
Time passes. Listen. Time passes.…Come closer now.
Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the
slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night. Only you
can see, in the blinded bedrooms, the combs and petticoats
over the chairs, the jugs and basins, the glasses-of-teeth,
Thou Shalt Not on the wall, and the yellowing dickybird
watching pictures of the dead.
Only you can see and hear, behind the eyes of the sleepers,

the movements and countries and mazes and colours and
dismays and rainbows and tunes and wishes and flight and
fall and despairs and big seas of their dreams.
From where you are you can hear their dreams.


  1. Fred Thrung says:

    Magic. And the Richard Burton version can bring tears to the eyes. One of my bestest LPs

  2. RAB says:

    Ta Fred, the Burton version is the definitive one, in my opinion too, I have it on my i Pod. Had Dylan himself lived long enough to be the narrator (as he was supposed to be) I don’t think it would have been a patch on what Burton managed, having heard Dylan read his own poetry. Bit like Brian Patten who I have sat in the same room with and had a pint with too, great poet, lousy reader.

    I was hoping for some more traffic, but isn’t it always the case, you don’t see a post for ages on Counting cats, then 6 turn up altogether! ;-)

  3. Thornavis says:

    Hi RAB here’s a bit more traffic for you. I’m never sure about DT ( how appropriate that is ) whether he was a great poet or a complete fraud with a gift of the gab and a talent for metaphor but it doesn’t really matter, it may all be a load of twaddle but it’s highly entertaining twaddle and you can only stand open mouthed and applaud. The other really attractive thing about him is that, unlike so many literary types, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, a saving grace in anyone.
    “Nothing grows in our garden, only washing and babies”, brilliant line.

  4. RAB says:

    Another satisfied customer!

    Dylan Thomas was a complete bastard with money and women, but he was the real deal where the poetry was concerned. There is incredibly subtle, clever and very funny stuff in Under Milk Wood. And all the Welsh speakers hate him being Wales’s most famous poet, cos he was always talking the piss out of the place. That he did it in a very affectionate way misses their flinty solemn hearts by a mile.

    My great Uncle lived in Laugharne, and knew Dylan (and probably bought all the drinks!) Even the famous Boat House had been cadged for free from AJP Taylor’s wife.

    And talking of Laugharne and surrounds, We are off there (well Narberth but it’s only just up the road) in a few hours. It was a big day at the RAB Mansion yesterday. My wife Vanessa, took early retirement from the MOD as she is fed up to the back teeth with the inept braindead bastards, and managed to screw a very good pension deal out of them. So we are off for a weeks walking in West Wales with the bonkers dog, Madam Joy.

    If any of you wish to see what that part of the world looks like, well it’s here…

    There a shedloads of pics there of course, and being computer illiterate, I haven’t organised them very well. But when you run out of captions, you’ll know you are in Cardiff rather than West Wales. Feel free to browse folks!

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