Dylan Thomas is not a name that many people immediately recognize. But as soon as I say the words –
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
– then people recognize that his words have touched their lives.
The Dylan Thomas Trail in Wales
Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea Wales, a coastal town that also happens to be the birthplace of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Any of her fans will recognize that Dylan’s most famous play “Under Milk Wood” inspired the name of her production company. She also named her son Dylan because of his influence in her life.
You learn these things and so much more when you visit the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. He was the son of a school teacher, yet a poor student. However, he owed much of his early success to the tutoring his father provided to eliminate the Welsh accent from his speech. To make it in London, you couldn’t sound like a Welshman.
Richard Burton was one of Thomas’ closest friends, and John Lennon personally selected an image of the Welsh poet/playwright to be included on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
The Southern Coast of Wales
That was all fun and incredibly interesting, but I really connected with Thomas when we traveled on to Laugharne, where he wrote so much of his material from the boathouse and garage. I feel guilty writing in my climate-controlled, carpeted office.
The cliff side on which his home is perched is covered by wild blackberries and clematis. The view of Carmarthen Bay beyond is magnificent, even on a cloudy, gray day, which is often the case anywhere in Wales. But it is a peaceful place at the edge of an engaging community, which I hope to visit again some day. My hope is that you aspire to visit as well.
Others follow in our footsteps during the annual Dylan Thomas Festival, which begins on October 27, the day he was born in 1914, and concludes on November 9, the day he died in 1953.