We were spending the night in Swansea, Wales before going to our next sit in south west Wales. Sometimes you discover something that you did not know on a trip like this. In the restaurant where we were eating dinner, I saw a wall painting of Dylan Thomas , my favorite poet after Shakespeare. It said that he was born and lived his first 23 years in a house in Swansea.
Thomas was an amazing wordsmith. The way he put words together to make new and startling images was like painting with words. Here is the beginning of the poem Fern Hill;
“Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,”
You can see the joyful child rushing through the high green grass at his aunt’s farm.
It was kind of hard to find the house since there were only small signs. I am surprised that the council in Swansea has not publicized that it is Dylan’s birthplace.
We were greeted at the door by Geoff Haden, the owner of the house and a Thomas admirer. He took time with us to talk about Dylan’s life here in this middle class Edwardian house. Geoff encouraged us to take our time looking at the house and even said we could open the cupboards and drawers.
Dylan was born in the front bedroom of his parent’s house on October 27th 1914.
The house has been lovingly restored to as close to the original as possible. Geoff told us that they found a woman who had been a maid in the house when she was 15 and Dylan was 16. She remembered how the house looked.
Here is a photograph of the desk in his tiny bedroom. It was here in this untidy bedroom that was full of books, sweets and cigarettes that Dylan wrote such amazing poems and stories.
There is even his twin bed that was next to the house hot water boiler.It was a thrill to see where Dylan wrote his masterpieces and to feel his spirit in the house. Dylan’s life was short. He died in New York on November 9, 1953 after drinking all night in a pub after one of his poetry readings. He had been ill with pneumonia and went into a coma in the hospital and never came out of it before he died.
His most famous poem is “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” that he wrote for his father when his father died in 1952 just one year before his own death. It is sad that Dylan did not get to follow his advice to his father about death.
“And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
If you are ever in southwestern Wales , try to get by the house in Swansea. The home is also available for private hire. The do weddings, conferences, private parties and book launches. It is located at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea. I am sure Geoff will welcome you warmly.