National Poetry Day: Dylan Thomas’ inspiration

To celebrate National Poetry Day today we are dedicating our blog to the wonderful Dylan Thomas. Born and raised in Swansea the great poet is a national treasure for Wales and of course Ceredigion where he often visited.

Thomas wrote some of his best poems and plays while living in New Quay from 1944 until 1945, inspired by the rugged West Wales coast and its stunning landscape.

Thomas’ Under Milk Wood was written one Winter morning whilst strolling along the quiet seaside town. Some suggest that the eccentric characters and even the fictional town of Llareggub was based on New Quay itself. Thomas’ sketch map of the fictional town can even be seen in the National Library of Wales.

New Quay organise an extensive Dylan Thomas trail which passes his favourite haunts, the old houses of his comrades and even his bungalow.

The town also has connections with the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea which has a permanent exhibition and is home to many literary events throughout the year, including the Dylan Thomas Festival in October.

In memory of Dylan Thomas here is an extract from Quite Early One Morning (1944) which was written about New Quay itself:

 

Quite early one morning in the winter in Wales, by the sea that was lying down still and green as grass after a night of tar-black howling and rolling, I went out of the house, where I had come to stay for a cold unseasonable holiday, to see if it was raining still, if the outhouse had been blown away, potatoes, shears, rat-killer, shrimp-nets, and tins of rusty nails aloft on the wind, and if all the cliffs were left. It had been such a ferocious night that someone in a smoky ship-pictured bar had said he could feel his tombstone shaking even though he was not dead, or at least was moving; but the morning shone as clear and calm as one always imagines tomorrow will shine.

The sun lit the sea-town, not as a whole, from topmost downreproving zinc-roofed chapel to empty-but-for-rats-and-whispers grey warehouse on the harbour, but In separate bright pieces. There, the quay shouldering out, nobody on it now but the gulls and the capstans like small men in tubular trousers. Here, the roof of the police-station, black as a helmet, dry as a summons, sober as Sunday. There, the splashed church, with a cloud in the shape of a bell poised above it, ready to drift and ring. Here the chimneys of the pink-washed pub, the pub that was waiting for Saturday night as an over-jolly girl waits for sailors.

Doesn’t that make you want to head to the coast?

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