Monday, February 10, 2020

Falling in love with Dylan Thomas

From our archives …a blog about the impact of words ... Julie Mulhern's December 14, 2015 memories of

Falling in love with Dylan Thomas

One night, very soon, I will escape to the living room with a glass of wine. The lights on the Christmas tree will glimmer and I will turn on the CD player.

No music.

At least not music as my teenagers understand it.

I will listen to Dylan Thomas recite A Child’s Christmas in Wales. I will listen to the music of words strung together like pearls, perfect and shining brighter than the lights on my tree.

I remember the first time I heard A Child’s Christmas in Wales. I was a child, left in a running car (cut my father some slack—it was the seventies and I was nine or ten, old enough to lock the doors). The day was gray and foggy. My seat was warm. My father needed to speak with a mechanic…I think. At any rate, I was left alone.

I sat in the Oldsmobile, listened to Dylan Thomas, and fell in love with language.

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."

"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

Maybe one of these days, I’ll tell my father the greatest gift he ever gave me was leaving me in the car with Dylan Thomas.

Happy holidays to all!

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