Yesterday in an Enfield poetry group event at the Forty Hall Estate,  I read the poem - The Colour of Saying - by Dylan Thomas, the most famous Welsh bard of the 20th century who drank himself to death in 1953. 

I was talking about how I grew up in Swansea not a quarter of a mile from where Dylan grew up and how my father used to read us extracts from Under Milk Wood. He had Milk Wood read by the rich sonorous voice of the actor Richard Burton on LP, ie. for anyone under 45 - a long-playing vinyl record and would often play it on the weekends, to relax after a stressful week of work as a criminal case barrister.

In our Enfield group, a discussion ensued about Dylan and it seemed everyone had a connection to his wonderful poetry.  Of course, everyone knows some of his most famous poems, for example, Fernhill and Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and Death Shall Have No Dominion. As we discussed, when you read Dylan's poetry, first listen to the sound of the words, then focus on meaning which is nebulous and open and often just out of reach ... 

Here's another of his well-known poems:

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

 - 1914-1953

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971, 2003 New Directions Publishing Corp. Used with permission.

And if you listen to any of his broadcasting recordings on YouTube you'll be surprised maybe to find that he had no Welsh accent.  This is because his father - a school teacher, paid for him to have elocution lessons to eliminate the Welsh accent. In those days, the BBC required all its spoken word contributors to speak in RP ie Received Pronunciation.   Of course, the Welsh of his father's generation were definitely made to feel that their accent and culture and language were inferior to that of the English invaders.... 

Here's another quote from Dylan, talking about his first falling in love with nursery rhymes - 

'I had come to love just the words of them, the words alone.  What the words stood for, symbolised or meant, was of very secondary importance; what mattered was the sound of them as I heard for the first time on the lips of the remote and incomprehensible grown-ups who seemed, for some reason, to be living in my world.'

and

'Poetry, to a poet,' he has said, 'is the most rewarding work in the world.  A good poem is a contribution to reality.  The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it.'

[Both extracts from The Prologue in The Colour of Saying, edited by DT]




Poetry Event Sunday. 9th October. 11 a.m.

Poetry Event 

This Sunday - 9th October 2022

In the open-sided barn at the 

Farmers Market,  Forty Hall, Enfield EN2 9HA

Starts 11 a.m.  Great Line up of poets -

Readers -

11.00 am Rob Saunders

  11.07 am Anthony Fisher

   11.14 am Valerie Darville 

   11.21 am Anne Alexander 

   11.29 am Roshni Beeharry

11.36 am Craig Delaney  

11.43 am Michael Brett   

12.00 Mary Duggan         

12.07 Chrissy Evangelou 

12.14 Hannah Dyson        

12.21 Lennie Varvarides  

12.28 Ayfer Orhan            

12.35 Anna Mickiewicz    

12.37 Anna Meryt            

 Close with Mary Duggan


Some of the best North London and Enfield poets - come and see at the covered barn in Forty Hall Farmers Market - afterwards browse the stalls for local organic vegetables as well as lots of interesting food stalls.

Poetry event 

Sunday 25th September 

2-4 p.m  at

The Little Green Dragon Alehouse, 
Winchmore Hill, London, N21 2AD

Mary Duggan Christine Vial - 2 excellent poets are reading.
Plus the Rev Mark Meacher and Melanie Smith.
I've been asked to read one 'eco' poem ..

Turn and Face Medusa

 Rhino horns, Elephant tusks, Lion hunts

a red mist descends, a hopeless paralysis

 Plastic plastic everywhere

·       Bags on the street

·       Bags in the sea

·       Microplastic we drink, fish swallow, we eat

·       Shrink-wrapped cucumber

·       Plastic bottles – oceans of them

·       Recycling, biodegrading, burning

·       Dump our recycling far away

to pollute distant lands, out of sight, not our problem.


Water, water – drying out

climate catastrophe.

Extinction rebellion

 

I go into overwhelm and switch off

pull the duvet over my head

close down, turn away, block my ears

 

More plastic bottles,

coffee cups with plastic lids.

Where to put my cat food pouches?

 

The search for biodegradable bin bags, wet wipes?

Eco-footprints, carbon footprints

Air travel, diesel engines,

disappearing rainforests,  rainforests disappearing … for ever.

 

Species go extinct,

palm oil in Bisto gravy browning

plastic factories making more and more and more,

and wet wipe mounds pollute the beaches.

 

Open your minds, open your eyes

Open your hearts.  Face the truth!

 

Turn, turn, turn to face Medusa.

 

Anna Meryt

7 July 2019

 

Inspired by a talk by Joanna Macey (Active Hope) Environmentalist.

Medusa – the Gorgons  from Greek mythology, hair made of venomous snakes, those who gazed into her eyes would turn to stone.