Monday, October 27, 2008

Poem in October

Driving to work early in the morning ... er ... sucks. It's nowhere near as much fun as heading home in the dark, because in the morning you're miles from home, tired and with a full day's work to put in.

I dulled the boredom by listening to four hours of news - Radio 5 from 05:00 to 06:00 and then "Today" on Radio 4 until 09:00. Fortunately for my mental health, in among the gloomy financial news items and John Blooming Prestcott, there was an article on one of my all-time favourite poets, Dylan Thomas.

The house where he was born, grew and wrote a great deal of his best work has been lovingly restored it to its 1914 condition and opened as a guest house. If you feel like using Dylan's toilet and sleeping in his bed, you can now stay the night at Number 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea.

But why do that ?! For one thing, not all his best work was produced there. Take "Prologue" , his very last poem. Masterful use of language and it rhymes from the middle outwards, which makes for a very unconventional feel. Written while riddled with pneumonia/emphysema, off his head on alcohol/morphine at the Hotel Chelsea in New York. Surely nobody is going to think it's a good idea to recreate that experience ...

Walking in the physical steps of an artist is a total nonsense. The house is just an old house and the toilet will just be an old toilet.

Also, Thomas, though one of this planet's great writers, didn't come close to making the grade as a human-being. He wasted his talent and heaped misery on all who loved him. His work is definitely worthy of study, but his life ?!.

My advice is to save the money you'd spend on staying in the guest house, and instead buy a copy of "Dylan Thomas Selected Poems, 1934-1952". If you already own a copy, buy another and leave it in your local pub.

We might get lucky and the words of a Poet who became a Drunk could inspire a Drunk to become a Poet.

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