In a poet’s footsteps

This weekend I finally got to visit the visit of Laugharne in West Wales where my fellow countryman Dylan Thomas lived in the final three years of his life. I’m almost ashamed to admit that even though this village is only 90 minutes drive from my home, I’ve never made the pilgrimage. A birthday treat courtesy of Mr BookerTalk rectified that omission.

We got to look around  the riverside house where he lived with his wife Caitlin/

Dylan Thomas last house at Laugharne, Camarthenshire

Dylan Thomas last house at Laugharne, Camarthenshire

It looks cosy but in reality was rather damp apparently. Still it had the advantage of occupying a spot on the estuary with some wonderful views from the windows and the garden. We sat and watched clouds scudding across the sky, creating constantly changing  patterns of light and shadow on the sand and reflecting back in sparkling drops of water.  For a few seconds all sound seemed to be suspended.

View from Dylan Thomas home on the estuary at Laugharne,

View from Dylan Thomas home on the estuary at Laugharne,

The small exhibition about his life and the audio recording of Thomas reading some of his poems made the visit special. But an equally memorable part of our visit was the chance we had to peek inside the small garage just along the lane where he actually did his writing. It’s been renovated and restored to give a glimpse of the rather chaotic conditions in which he composed Under Milk Wood. Sweet wrappers lie scrumpled on the desk, sheets of paper are scattered along the floor and on the back of the chair hangs a rather scruffy jacket as if Thomas had just popped out for one of his legendary drinking sessions in Browns Hotel and would be back soon.

Since this was a birthday treat, it was entirely appropriate that we trod in Thomas’ footsteps along The Birthday Walk – a path threading through trees and undergrowth along the estuary, that Thomas took on his 35th birthday.

Dylan Thomas' writing shed at Laugharne

Dylan Thomas’ writing shed at Laugharne

The writing shed at Laugharne, where Under Milk Wood was created

The writing shed at Laugharne, where Under Milk Wood was created

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,
Toesl towards the ambush of his wounds;
Herons, stepple stemmed, bless.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on June 15, 2015, in Welsh authors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. What a fun trip and a beautiful place!

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  2. I was going to ask what it is about sheds/garages and writing but looking at the picture it seems pretty comfortable for a shed so maybe I can see the attraction after all – especially if the house was damp!

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    • I think it was Virginia Woolf who said women need a space of their own in which to write – it applies just as much to men living in a damp house with a wife who had a bit of a temper, and a young child.

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  3. Dylan Thomas is one of my favorite poets. I drown in his sumptuos descriptions. Every year at Christmas, I re-read A Child’s Christmas in Wales (and watch the Denholm Elliot TV version of it). Thanks for taking us along with you to his house.

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  4. Thanks, Karen, for letting us join you on your trip! It read as if I was there myself!

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