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At Home With Dylan Thomas

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

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,

Dylan Thomas’ writing shed at Laugharne

Inside the house there was a small exhibition about his life and the audio recording of Thomas reading some of his poems. Hearing his voice 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.

The boat shed as it’s know, has been renovated and restored to give a glimpse of the rather chaotic conditions in which he composed Under Milk Wood.

Sweet wrappers lie crumpled 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 my birthday treat, it was entirely appropriate that we completed our pilgrimage by following in Thomas’ footsteps along a path that threaded through trees and undergrowth along the estuary. He did this walk on his 35th birthday, marking the occasion with a poem.

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.

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