Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Dylan Thomas and a 4.500-year-old dolmen

Just going back to Scotland for a second!

A dram of whiskey

I just finished The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud. At the end, one of the characters begins to commit suicide (spoiler alert - she backs out) and she does it by taking pills with some Lagavullin whiskey - one of the ones I listed as a favorite in a past blog entry. Once upon a time that reference wouldn't have meant a thing to me. Anyway, she wasn't a character I much cared for, but I thought suicide would be a huge waste, so I'm glad she didn't do it (yeah, I now, it's fiction).

House cat at Castlekirk B&B

I forgot to mention that the owner of the Castlekirk B&B on the Isle of Arran (one of my favorite places) and I had a lot in common. Her father is 90, like mine, and her mother died this spring, like mine, and her parents were married the same length of time as mine. We're both artists and social justice/peace people. Looking at her book shelves was like stepping into Sonoma County. We had a great talk as I was waiting for the bus to take me to the ferry - we didn't discover how much we shared until the last minute. I'd go back if I could and chat longer!

Beginning the Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk

Dylan Thomas always wrote a poem on his birthday. On his 30th birthday, October 27, 1944, he wrote "Poem in October" and it was about walking a path along the shore in Laugharne. So we hiked the path and, of course, recited the poem along the way. It's an official landmark and parts of the poem appear on signs along the way. Get ready for a whole bunch of estuary photos.

Taf Estuary #1

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood   
      And the mussel pooled and the heron
                  Priested shore
            The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall   
            Myself to set foot
                  That second
      In the still sleeping town and set forth.

Taf Estuary #2

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name   
      Above the farms and the white horses
                  And I rose   
            In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
            Over the border
                  And the gates
      Of the town closed as the town awoke.

Taf Estuary #3

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling   
      Blackbirds and the sun of October
            On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly   
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened   
            To the rain wringing
                  Wind blow cold
      In the wood faraway under me.

Taf Estuary #4

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail   
      With its horns through mist and the castle   
                  Brown as owls
            But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales   
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.   
            There could I marvel
                  My birthday
      Away but the weather turned around.

Taf estuary #5

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky   
      Streamed again a wonder of summer
                  With apples
            Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother   
            Through the parables
                  Of sun light
      And the legends of the green chapels

Taf Estuary #6

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.   
      These were the woods the river and sea
                  Where a boy
            In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy   
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
            And the mystery
                  Sang alive
      Still in the water and singingbirds.

Sign on the trail

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true   
      Joy of the long dead child sang burning
                  In the sun.
            It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon   
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.   
            O may my heart’s truth
                  Still be sung
      On this high hill in a year’s turning.

Looking down on the Boathouse
and the writing shed from the October Walk

As you can tell, I was rather enamored with the estuary and this doesn't even represent all
the aspects of it.

Laugharne window

Dylan Thomas and the castle

And I didn't even make it to the castle. Just one more reasons to return some day.

Church where Dylan and Caitlin Thomas are buried

Before leaving town, we stopped on the churchyard where Thomas and his wife are
buried.  We read some more of his poetry - no, I'm not going to give you any more.

 Reading Dylan Thomas graveside

We also met a man who drives from Swansea every year to visit the grave (only an hour away). His wife isn't interested and she waits impatiently in the car. She had to come haul him away from a pleasant and informed discussion with the group.
The grave - Caitlin's name on the back
The blog has suddenly started to format very strangely and I can't figure out how to fix it, so I'm going to end this post and continue with a new one and see if it makes any difference.

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