Monday, 23 October 2017

Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk Part I: And there could I marvel my birthday away

The sky turned red and then stopped being red and the Poetry Festival ended with readings from Sarah Howe, Karen McCarthy Woolf and Rishi Dastidar; plus two poetry shows, The Venus Papers and the resonant and enthralling Leasungspell. I hadn't managed to get to every event, but still clocked up ten in a fortnight which is a lot for an introverted type much more at home wrapped up in a knitted blanket with a cup of tea.  It had been great ... but exhausting.


There was a birthday - mine - looming too, the observation of which I've always found a bit overwhelming. But the Northerner sets store by such markers, so I girded my lions and other big cats and we set off for Laugharne in Carmarthenshire ... 


... to Brown's Hotel, to be precise, which we'd visited earlier in the yearThis time we were staying the night. With the dog. Because in Brown's, dogs are welcome.  


After a settling-in drink, we set out on Dylan Thomas's Birthday Walk, which provides the grist for Poem in October ...  


... a long, lyrical excursion which is, I suspect, especially beloved of his fellow October-borns.   

Having visited Dylan and Caitlin's grave in May, we didn't feel the need to go back there so soon. Better to focus on the living word. 




As it was, the churchyard was rather more sombre than it had been in the lushness of May.


At the church door we encountered a woman who was just finishing the cleaning, so I asked her if I could pop in for a moment. 'Are your boots clean?' she asked. I looked down at my walking shoes which were still covered in a slip of grey Sussex chalk. Luckily they are grey anyway. 'Sort of,' I said.


She'd lived in Laugharne all her life, she said, and asked if we liked Dylan's poetry. 'He was never as bad as they make out,' she said. 'It was That New York that Did For Him.' 
She mentioned Augustus John, and when I said he'd been Caitlin's 'lover' when Dylan and Caitlin met, she winced a little. 'You know, I think they only did what poetry told them to do,' I said, borrowing a useful line from Birthday Letters. 'Or ... art - you know - in the case of Augustus.'


10th century Celtic Cross


We continued our walk, which took us down a deep lane that eventually wound around to the coast. 


Oak


Field Maple



The good red mud of the West Country which had been overlain by the grey chalk slip of Sussex was now being covered by the good red mud of Carmarthenshire. 




Rhossili Down and Worms Head in the far distance


The Boathouse, decidedly less bustling than in May


We'd intended to continue our walk up over Sir John's Hill, but while we were wandering, the weather had turned around, as in the poem, and Storm Brian was blowing in. 


So we repaired to Brown's and Ted, who thinks everywhere we visit is potentially a new, long-term abode, made himself at home. 


The Pelican, where Dylan's parents were tenants from 1949 to 1953 and where Dylan's wake was held




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