Under Milk Wood
30/05/2012 § 5 Comments
Have you heard of Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)? He was a writer and playwright, Welsh – of course! One of his best known plays – a play for voices is called Under Milk Wood.
It begins like this …
“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 invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night 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 widows’ weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.
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 cocklewomen 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 organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrogered 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.”
I’ve had a long love affair with this little play. It’s very Welsh – the characters are often melancholy and there’s much subtle innuendo & humour in his writing. One of my favourite characters is Mr Mog Edwards, who runs Cloth Hall, the drapery. Whenever anything arrives in the post for me, I think of these lines that he writes to his unrequited love – Miss Myfanwy Price …
“I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore, cretonne, crepon, muslin, poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of the world. I have come to take you away to my emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bed socks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast.”
And as the postman arrived with my parcels last week … “A new parcel of ribbons has come from Carmarthen today, all the colours in the rainbow….Business is very poorly. Polly Garter bought two garters with roses but she never got stockings so what is the use I say.”
Ha – that makes me laugh! I may share some more snippets with you – would you like that? I’m no literary critic, but let me know what you’d like to hear about – there are wonderful characters and funny verse. We used to name our dogs after characters in the play – we had Myfanwy Price (Fan), No-Good Boyo and Mattie!
Now what was in those parcels?
Aren’t they just delightful? They arrived, not from Carmarthen, but from the far flung corners of the globe – right round it! I’m so thrilled with them and have been working on some more cushions – patchwork log cabin with red bobbles – some are definitely for our Dolly-van!
In other news – I’m definitely having Foxglove-Love …
Every day some more trumpets open and it’s breath-taking. In my sewing room I have a little something else to make me smile …
a solar-powered nodding sunflower! Himself bought it for me a couple of weeks ago and as the sun rises, she tips her head back and forth and her leaves bob up and down! Isn’t she just the sweetest thing?
Happy days …