21 Days/21 Poems: From “Under Milk Wood” by Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas map of Llareggub

A poem about a place for today’s 21 Days/21 Poems.

The poem is written and recited by Reverend Eli Jenkins, a character in the radio drama Under Milk Wood by the Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953).  Sometimes referred to as a play of voices, Under Milk Wood, written in 1954, is set in the fictional village of Llareggub, which is actually bugger all spelt backwards. Thomas, on vacation in a seaside town called New Quay in Western Wales, was inspired to write about the town after a morning’s walk. The play has been read or performed numerous times. A film adaptation was released in 1972 starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.  And as I keep coming back to it; Burton reads this poem on that recording that I have from about twenty years ago.  This piece is really better heard than read. So, do please listen to the recording as well :).

Dear Gwalia! I know there are
Towns lovelier than ours,
And fairer hills and loftier far,
And groves more full of flowers,

And boskier woods more blithe with spring
And bright with birds’ adorning,
And sweeter bards than I to sing
Their praise this beauteous morning.

By Cader Idris, tempest-torn,
Or Moel y Wyddfa’s glory,
Carnedd Llewelyn beauty born,
Plinlimmon old in story,

By mountains where King Arthur dreams,
By Penmaen Mawr defiant,
Llareggub Hill a molehill seems,
A pygmy to a giant.

By Sawdde, Senny, Dovey, Dee,
Edw, Eden, Aled, all,
Taff and Towy broad and free,
Llyfnant with its waterfall,

Claerwen, Cleddau, Dulais, Daw,
Ely, Gwili, Ogwr, Nedd,
Small is our River Dewi, Lord,
A baby on a rushy bed.

By Carreg Cennen, King of time,
Our Heron Head is only
A bit of stone with seaweed spread
Where gulls come to be lonely.

A tiny dingle is Milk Wood
By golden Grove ‘neath Grongar,
But let me choose and oh! I should
Love all my life and longer

To stroll among our trees and stray
In Goosegog Lane, on Donkey Down,
And hear the Dewi sing all day,
And never, never leave the town.

I’m drawn to this place even though it’s fictitious.  It’s the way that Jenkins describes Llareggub with “boskier woods more blithe with spring” and making sure to name the surrounding towns and landmarks.  It sounds idyllic. Rev. Eli Jenkins really celebrates the town.

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5 comments

  1. I’m pretty sure the “boskier woods more blithe with spring” refer to other woods not the woods of Llareggub. The whole point of it is that it’s not idyllic, it’s ordinary. Or did I mis-read?

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