O may my hearts truth still be sung…
It’s a line from ‘Poem in October’ by Dylan Thomas.
Written on his 30th birthday in Laugharne, the fishing village where he lived the last years of his life.
Dylan Thomas was the first writer and poet I studied in English Literature; his play, Under Milk Wood, the very first text.
I wonder what he would have made of this digital world when his gut-poetry came from the earth he walked, the air he breathed, the golden light that spun the path ahead, the sea mist that spritzed his face.
So I visited (thanks Marty) in a different season, in May’s sun and mizzle. And walked New Walk. And hung under the wood and peered through the window of his writing shed, perched like a nest over the Tay. And became the tourist in the boathouse that was his home. Where tea and scones are sold though no copies of Under Milk Wood, sorry, you need to go to the big town for that – “At the moment”.
You can walk the coastal cliff walk where the poem was written, signposted “Dylan Thomas’ Birthday Walk”, on through Salt House Farm. Benches sing out his lines overlooking riverbed and sea.
I thought about Mrs Ogmore Pritchard, polishing her potatoes, as I sat in the bay window of Browns Hotel watching the good townsfolk and tourists of Laugharne pass by. Where I tasted Welsh Laverbread for the first time. Seaweed pulp. It comes in a tin. Tasted like oysters and olives. Actually I liked it. And then I wrote this poem.
O may my hearts truth still be sung
Watching from breakfast’s window seat
Out there where the weather has turned around.
Just yesterday on the coast track
Sun as yellow as these cushions.
Plumped up chests, arched in warmth, rested on benches,
Gazed out like the view over river, wood and sea,
Tuned to the breeze thick with ocean and meadow dust.
Tea cups rattle at your boathouse now
Scones on the make.
No one seems to care where the tide is
In or out.
One boat stranded on the sands
Waits, leaning like a good drunk
Craving to be righted by the moon.
Today is misty on your birthday walk
Under ageing ash and farmed views of the brown owl castle.
On the Salt House Farm track
Elderflowers and foxgloves pimped like the Sun King,
High mauve and dotty cream,
Heave their invisible scents along this path
Where you the poet walked at 30.
Maybe at 40 and 50 too?
Not so sunny now on the hill’s shoulder.
Past my bay window seat at Browns Hotel
Heads are bowed down under umbrellas.
The garbage truck has been and gone in steam from the chemist’s chimney.
“Morning, you okay then?”
Yes, fine thanks. Laverbread and eggs please.
©️Hilary Burden 2019