Literature and Music

This section is going to feature literary and musical works. We start by featuring the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. I admire his experimental prose and poetry, which are very relevant to the mission of the Collective Enterprise. As literature is not my field nor I am not inclined to a deeper understanding of literary works, Dylan Thomas was introduced to me in the year 1991 when I was asked to bring copies to the Philippines five works of the famous Welsh poet. I secured the copies immediately and read while completing my final requirements for graduation purely for relaxation.  However,   his works would be immersed in my thinking at about the same time the “policy experiment in development” that Dennis Rondinelli advocates start to get my attention.

Dylan Thomas, His Experimental Prose and Poetry

John Goodby is the authority on Dylan Thomas in Swansea University. According to him “Thomas blistered and jolted readers thanks to an infatuation with words that became voracious love. It is impossible to overstate the invigorating influence of his work and the tragedy of his early death.”  John Goodby is a critic, poet, translator and arts organizer.  He is an expert on modern Irish poetry, also a world authority on Dylan Thomas, editor of the new annotated edition of the Collected Poems (2014),  and author of The Poetry of Dylan Thomas: Under the Spelling Wall (2013).

My Introduction to Dylan Thomas

I lived for a year at 24 Glanmor Road Swansea, just a few blocks away from 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, in the Uplands of Swansea, where Dylan Thomas was born. On my first weekend in Swansea, I immediately visited the place alone just strolling the surrounding of the Uplands of Swansea where I would be living for a year. I went up the terraced houses nearby.

Ten months later, I would receive a request from our office’s secretary,  Febe Benito, that then Undersecretary Carlos Fernandez is asking for a copy of Under Milkwood, Quite Early One Morning, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, Adventures in the Skin Trade, and A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Instead of just buying the books just close to my departure date, I immediately went down and go to the nearest bookstore which is just a block away and purchased while only three were available and I have to place an order for the remaining two books.

Now, as much as possible, I wish I could easily reminisce about five works of Dylan Thomas that I just browsed and enjoyed reading in 1991. However, I have to do a lot of research to reminisce. In his short stories, I could remember his description of the Upland Tavern that I also go, the Sketty Road that I cross, and the Davis Grocer that still exists then managed by twin brothers.

Quite Early One Morning is a short story reminiscent of his childhood one morning in Wales. He was able to make a clear description of the character in the neighborhood in a seaside town in Wales. 

Under Milk Wood is a profound and comical portrayal of Welsh life that people are shown as being particularly happy. They are the “chosen people of His kind fire in Llareggub’s land” and the town retains its own magic and holy significance despite its fault.  He   speaks of a sun-lit town with the sea “lying still and green as grass after a night of tar-black howling and rolling.”The play also reveals a more serious aspect of Thomas’ creation – it was composed in part as a response to the terrible inheritance of World War II – in which the affirmative, redemptive cast of the play carries a moral dimension, an imaginative, lyrical empathy for the regenerative innocence of the average human being and their capacity for grace. Llareggub becomes a space in which eccentricity is tolerated, sin is forgiven and love is nurtured – or at least dreamt about and possible.

(http://www.undermilkwood.net/prose_undermilkwood.html)

Often considered his greatest single work, Under Milk Wood, the  BBC credited their producer Stella Hillier with ensuring the play actually materialized. Assigned “some of the more wayward characters who were then writing for the BBC”, she dragged the notoriously unreliable Thomas out of the pub and back to her office to finish the work. The play took several years to write, the first half mostly in South Leigh, Oxford, in 1948, whilst the second half was mostly written in America in May 1953. Fewer than 300 lines were written in Laugharne, according to one account, which also explains the influence of New Quay on the play.  (Poemhunter.com – The World’s Poetry Archive )

Adventures in the Skin Trade is a collection of fiction that portrays how Dylan Thomas was an extraordinary storyteller. The collection of short stories ranges from the “The School for Witches” and “The Burning Baby,” with their powerful inheritance of Welsh mythology and wild imagination, to the chapters he completed before his death of written in a shrewd, sly, deadpan vein of picaresque comedy, of young Samuel Bennet, who runs away from his home in Wales to seek his fortune in London.  

Portrait of the Artist as A young Dog portrays Dylan Thomas himself as a young dog. This collection of autobiographical stories by the Welsh poet who shows his amusing humor at its best, his liveliness and verbal magic in a spectacular display. It also shows him a “spinner of tales and a creator of memorable characters” as one review puts it.  The collection contains Peaches, A visit to Grandpa’s,  Patricia, Edith & Arnold, The fight, Extraordinary Little Cough, Just Like Little Dogs, Where Tawe flows, Who Do You Wish Was With Us, Old Garbo, and One Warm Saturday are short stories how he clearly uses words to describe the Swansea neighborhood he grew up.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales is a piece of prose recorded by Dylan Thomas in 1952. The work is an anecdotal reminiscence of a Christmas from the viewpoint of a young boy, portraying a nostalgic and simpler time. It is one of Thomas’s most popular works. As with his poetry, A Child’s Christmas in Wales does not have a tight narrative structure but instead uses descriptive passages in a fictionalized autobiographical style, designed to create an emotive sense of the nostalgia Thomas is intending to evoke, remembering a Christmas from the viewpoint of the author as a young boy. Thomas searches for a nostalgic belief in Christmases past—”It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas”—furthering his idyllic memory of childhood by describing the snow as being better and more exciting than the snow experienced as an adult. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Child%27s_Christmas_in_Wales )

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