Friday, February 19, 2010

i just finished a biography on dylan thomas by constantine fitzgibbon.
it prompted me to look for recordings of dylan thomas reading his own poetry.
i found some youtube (at end) and here is a reading from the bbc archives.
it is quite something to hear; those rolling, lilting, bass notes. elocution.

"Dylan Thomas's voice has added a new dimension to literary history. He will surely be remembered as the first in modern literature to be both a maker and speaker of poetry..."
The New York Times on Thomas at the time of his American tours

it was a joy to also find these photos of his boathouse studio on a cliff's edge in south wales.

dylan thomas died in new york in november 1953 at the age of 39.

(ps - as far as i can see you need to have a skinny view on your screen to have these in linear order, it seems. a wide view and they go all over the shop...)

reading do not go gentle into that good night (written when his father was dying)

reading in my craft or sullen art

reading fern hill

reading love in the asylum (a girl mad as birds)


  1. he looks like that guy from simply red.

  2. you made me very curious about his poems, i know he's a very famous writer but i don't know his work, actually i almost never read poems.
    Time for change :)
    thanks for sharing.

  3. yes, me too - i don't make it a habit to read poetry but am often thinking i should... the readings of his poems are quite amazing i think, they sound like they come from so far away... 'do not go gently into that good night' is a powerful one, i think. and that line, ' a girl mad as birds' - it is supreme. it s a good biography i think, full of direct passages of his letters. it is a classic biography written by a friend not far distant and can be seen to be indulgent i guess. but i enjoyed it, it took me to that version of wales and london...

  4. I didn't know his writing shed studio place was still there, I might try and go one weekend. Thank you for giving me the idea!

  5. Ooh thanks for leading me to the poetry archive! Just what I need in the studio sometimes. I love talking books and radio national too. But poetry on demand might help me with expanding me knowledge. I wish we all could still burst out with a well learnt poem like my grandpa would.

  6. very nice post :)

    As for skinny vs wide linear viewage, if you had time to mess with the coding of the HTML here's a tip:

    Format your HTML so that each image has a break after it, and is left aligned.

    [div style="text-align: left;"]
    [img src="URL OF IMAGE ONE".."][br]
    [img src="URL OF IMAGE TWO.."][br]
    [img src="URL OF IMAGE THREE.."][br]
    [img src="URL OF IMAGE FOUR"][br]

    Note: replace all ['s and ]'s with <'s and >'s

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. sorry, way too many typos in first comment,

    hi alice - jealous!
    hi dell - glad to be of help! radio national is awesome, wish i could have that on in my office...and so true - the world would be a better place if everyone knew some lovely lines by heart...
    hi milan - thanks!! i am slowly learning bits and bobs about layout - this helps a lot!

  9. It was our family Christmas eve tradition to sit and listen to an old Dylan Thomas recording of his poem/story "A Child's Christmas in Wales" on scratchy old vinyl. I still almost know it off by heart (and Fern Hill too). It's quite weird and completely hilarious. Sample (I found it online):

    "Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, "A fine Christmas!" and smacking at the smoke with a slipper.

    "Call the fire brigade," cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong.
    "There won't be there," said Mr. Prothero, "it's Christmas."
    There was no fire to be seen, only clouds of smoke and Mr. Prothero standing in the middle of them, waving his slipper as though he were conducting.

    "Do something," he said. And we threw all our snowballs into the smoke - I think we missed Mr. Prothero - and ran out of the house to the telephone box.

    "Let's call the police as well," Jim said. "And the ambulance." "And Ernie Jenkins, he likes fires."

    But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's Aunt, Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, "Would you like anything to read?"

  10. ouno - that is brilliant beyond words. thanks so much. i love the "and ernie jenkins, he likes fires". and i love so much that this was your tradition.

    can i share our (kind of tradition) at christmas?

    we are from irish background, and lived in the country, so on christmas were often driving some distance to get to anuts/uncles places to celebrate in big irish family tradition. our cd/tape of choice to put on the car's player was the pogues. no "silent night" or "noel, noel", we loved shane mcgowan's version of christmas with the punks and the bums and and the old sluts on junk. is a very great song:

    fairy tale of new york

    It was christmas eve babe
    In the drunk tank
    An old man said to me: won't see another one
    And then they sang a song
    The rare old mountain dew
    I turned my face away and dreamed about you
    Got on a lucky one
    Came in eighteen to one
    I´ve got a feeling
    This year´s for me and you
    So happy christmas
    I love you baby
    I can see a better time
    Where all our dreams come true.

    They got cars big as bars
    They got rivers of gold
    But the wind goes right through you
    It´s no place for the old
    When you first took my hand on a cold christmas eve
    You promised me broadway was waiting for me
    You were handsome you were pretty
    Queen of new york city when the band finished playing they yelled out for more
    Sinatra was swinging all the drunks they were singing
    We kissed on a corner
    Then danced through the night.

    And the boys from the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay
    And the bells were ringing out for christmas day.

    You´re a bum you´re a punk
    You´re an old slut on junk
    Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
    You scumbag you maggot
    You cheap lousy faggot
    Happy christmas your arse I pray god it´s our last.

    And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay
    And the bells were ringing out
    For christmas day.

    I could have been someone
    Well so could anyone
    You took my dreams from me
    When I first found you
    I kept them with me babe
    I put them with my own
    Can´t make it out alone
    I´ve built my dreams around you

    And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay
    And the bells are ringing out
    For christmas day.