Sunday, 2 October 2011

God speeded summer's end

It seems odd to be sweltering in this sort of heat at the beginning of October. Shorts have been dug out of the back of drawers where they have been hiding since last summer. Floaty cotton dresses have reappeared and even vest-lover R7 has ditched her winter underwear for the first time in 2011.

Yesterday involved a trip to the metropolis that is Carmarthen in search of the perfect school sock. Tender little toes are fussy about such things apparently so a visit to M&S was in order. I also needed to part with a Boots gift voucher, which required a Clinique counter. We accomplished our chores speedily, grabbed a carrier bag full of sandwiches from M&S and headed home in the heat.

It was in my head, as it was so hot, that a picnic would be nice on a big open beach somewhere. We attempted Pendine but it was stuffed to the gills. Nowhere to park unless we were willing to part with three quid and carry our picnic which, being hungry and grumpy, we weren't.

Instead we turned round and went back to Laugharne which has the virtue of being on the way home from Carmarthen while having a nice big shade-providing castle and a famous dead writer. It also has pushchair/toddler friendly paths (so useful in the past), free parking and very good ice cream.

It was lovely and it was cool sitting by the estuary eating our sandwiches and then we walked along the path that Dylan Thomas used to tread on his way to the pub and went to peer into tiny green-painted garage with incredible views that served as his writing hut. This is where he wrote Do not go gentle into that good night (although I don't know how anyone could write anything sitting in front of such a distractingly stunning view. Perhaps it was raining.) Thomas lived in Laugharne with his wife Caitlin and their children Colm, Aeronwy and Lewelyn until he died in 1953 and the couple are buried in St Martin's Churchyard. 

We peered from the path into the front door of the seashaken house and then climbed back down the path and scrambled over the breakneck of rocks back to the path along the estuary.

PROLOGUE by Dylan Thomas

This day winding down now
At God speeded summer's end
In the torrent salmon sun,
In my seashaken house
On a breakneck of rocks
Tangled with chirrup and fruit,
Froth, flute, fin, and quill
At a wood's dancing hoof,
By scummed, starfish sands
With their fishwife cross
Gulls, pipers, cockles, and snails,
Out there, crow black, men
Tackled with clouds, who kneel
To the sunset nets,
Geese nearly in heaven, boys
Stabbing, and herons, and shells
That speak seven seas,
Eternal waters away
From the cities of nine
Days' night whose towers will catch
In the religious wind
Like stalks of tall, dry straw,
At poor peace I sing
To you strangers (though song
Is a burning and crested act,
The fire of birds in
The world's turning wood,
For my sawn, splay sounds),
Out of these seathumbed leaves
That will fly and fall
Like leaves of trees and as soon
Crumble and undie
Into the dogdayed night.
Seaward the salmon, sucked sun slips,
And the dumb swans drub blue
My dabbed bay's dusk, as I hack
This rumpus of shapes
For you to know
How I, a spinning man,
Glory also this star, bird
Roared, sea born, man torn, blood blest.
Hark: I trumpet the place,
From fish to jumping hill! Look:
I build my bellowing ark
To the best of my love
As the flood begins,
Out of the fountainhead
Of fear, rage red, manalive,
Molten and mountainous to stream
Over the wound asleep
Sheep white hollow farms
To Wales in my arms. 
Hoo, there, in castle keep,
You king singsong owls, who moonbeam
The flickering runs and dive
The dingle furred deer dead!
Huloo, on plumbed bryns,
O my ruffled ring dove
In the hooting, nearly dark
With Welsh and reverent rook,
Coo rooing the woods' praise,
Who moons her blue notes from her nest
Down to the curlew herd!
Ho, hullaballoing clan
Agape, with woe
In your beaks, on the gabbing capes!
Heigh, on horseback hill, jack
Whisking hare! who
Hears, there, this fox light, my flood ship's
Clangour as I hew and smite
(A clash of anvils for my
Hubbub and fiddle, this tune
On a tongued puffball)
But animals thick as thieves
On God's rough tumbling grounds
(Hail to His beasthood).
Beasts who sleep good and thin,
Hist, in hogsback woods! The haystacked
Hollow farms in a throng
Of waters cluck and cling,
And barnroofs cockcrow war!
O kingdom of neighbors, finned
Felled and quilled, flash to my patch
Work art and the moonshine
Drinking Noah of the bay,
With pelt, and scale, and fleece:
Only the drowned deep bells
Of sheep and churches noise
Poor peace as the sun sets
And dark shoals every holy field.
We will ride out alone and then,
Under the stars of Wales,
Cry, Multitudes of arks! Across
The water lidded lands,
Manned with their loves they'll move,
Like wooden islands, hill to hill.
Huloo, my proud dove with a flute!
Ahoy, old, sea-legged fox,
Tom tit and Dai mouse!
My ark sings in the sun
At God speeded summer's end
And the flood flowers now.

PICTURE: Paddlers at New Quay by Maggie Christie.


  1. I love Laugharne, and Dylan Thomas, but I've never been keen on castles (perhaps because around here they were built to keep us peasant Welsh up in the North of the County, so the invaders could have the better land?).
    We went to Solva in the sunshine, at very low tide, and walked all the way down the harbour and around to the open sea. Never done that before. It was lovely.

  2. Ah, sleepy Laugharne and magical words. If any place can bask in the sunshine, Laugharne can . . .

    I loved the poem and have to confess I don't know much of Dylan Thomas's poetry, so I must blow the dust off his books . . .

  3. Glad that you're delighting in the "finally summer" days of October. Sounds absolutely grand.
    And thanks for sharing the poem by "St. Thomas of Wales."

    Note: word veri: preweedn. Looks like a sufficiently Welsh word.

  4. I would like to lodge a complaint .
    I was so enjoying reading the poem aloud to myself , that I didn't notice it suddenly start POURING outside .
    Hastily gathered , wet washing draped all over the kitchen , I'm now reading it all again .Louder . (It's even better the second time round.)

  5. How odd, I went to Laugharne recently too. First time in years; found it very disappointing to be honest. See blog for my take.


I am sorry to have to add word verification thing again but I keep getting spammed.