Under Milk Wood
Years ago, I saw a performance of Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood" on TV. I fell in love with it. At the end of this post I've embedded a YouTube recording of Richard Burton reading it and find out for yourself how wonderful it sounds.
Every once in a while I get ambitious and decide I'm going to memorize it. I've not gotten very far. I learn a bit, then abandon the project. Sometimes I relearn what I had once learned. Sometimes I go a bit further. There's a high likelihood that I'll die before I learn the whole thing. Still it's something to aspire to.
I've been thinking a lot about memory, both what's there and what's gone missing, and I'm thinking about recovering my earlier knowledge and learning a bit more. So, by way of starting the process here is what I remember, right now (this is not authoritative. There are a couple of errors. For the real thing, I've provided a link.
Nonetheless, from memory:
To begin, at the beginning.
It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless, and bible-black, the cobble streets silent, and the hunched, courters' and rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the slow black, sloe black, crow black fishing boat bobbing sea.
The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat, there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the welfare hall in widow's weeds. And all the people in the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping.
Hush! The babies are sleeping. The farmers, the fishers, the tradesmen and pensioners. Cobbler, schoolteacher, postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman. Drunkard, dressmaker, preacher policeman, the webfoot cockle-woman and the tidy wives.
Young girls lie bedded soft, or glide in their dreams with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glowworms down the aisle of the organ-playing wood. The boys are dreaming wicked, or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jolly-rogered sea. And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields, and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wet-nosed yards. And the cats lope sly, streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.
You can hear the dew fall and the hushed town breathing.
And you alone can see [hear] the invisible starfall, the darkest-before-dawn minutely dew-grazed stir of the black, dab-filled sea where [A bunch of boats, which may include, but not necessarily in this order] the Arethusa, the Skylark, Zanzibar, Rhianon, the Cormorant and the Star of Wales tilt, and ride.
You can hear the dew fall, and the hushed town breathing.
And so on.