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Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

Under Milk Wood

by Dylan Thomas

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1,879213,666 (4.19)88
Title:Under Milk Wood
Authors:Dylan Thomas
Info:Phoenix (2003), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Literature, Your library, To read

Work details

Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

  1. 00
    Greenvoe by George Mackay Brown (hazzabamboo)
    hazzabamboo: Both poetic and humorous snapshots of small rural communities - and both superb.
  2. 00
    Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (Sylak)
    Sylak: If you enjoy 20th Century poetry, give this a try.

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» See also 88 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I’ll start with confessing this was purchased cuz it was cheap at my local used bookstore, and I had no clue what it was. Reading it as a normal play turned out to be a mistake as I couldn’t visualize. After 20–30 pages, I turned to Wiki for an intro and then it all made sense! Categorized as a RADIO drama, this charming, lyrical and (I can genuinely say) creative play takes the reader to Dylan’s favorite scenery: Welsh seaside small town, where their lives on one spring day in the fictional town of Llareggub unfolds – from before they wake via dreams, through narrators and conversations during the day, and to dusk when they head to bed and between the sheets.

The story is told via 63 voices with 2 narrators plus dead and alive characters; voices and narrators often finish each other’s sentences to complete the thought. These town folks beguile us – a postman who steams open a love letter between a couple who have never set foot in each other’s homes, a husband who cooks a poison brew for his nagging wife, horny men, an affair, a 17 old looking for love, a butcher who sells questionable meat, and many more. Characters whose names reflect their profession adds entertainment – Dai Bread the baker, Organ Morgan the church organist, Jack Black the cobbler, and Evans the Death, the undertaker.

Amazingly, Dylan worked on this play over the course of 10 years finishing only 1 month before he died at the age of 39 in 1953; this is his last gift to the literary world.

Some quotes:
On sexual innuendos:
“…Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast.”
“…Poor little chimbley sweep she said
Black as the ace of spades
O nobody’s swept my chimbley
Since my husband went his ways.
Come and sweep my chimbley
Come and sweep my chimbley
She sighed to me with a blush…”

On men-are-pigs or maybe lust:
“Gossamer Beynon high-heels out of school. The sun hums down through the cotton flowers of her dress into the bell of her heart and buzzes in the honey there and crouches and kisses, lazy-loving and boozed, in her red-berried breast. Eyes run from the trees and windows of the street, steaming ‘Gossamer,’ and strip her to the nipples and the bees. She blazes naked past the Sailors Arms, the only woman on the Dai-Adamed earth. Sinbad Sailors places on her thighs still dewdamp from the first mangrowing cockcrow garden his reverent goat-bearded hands.”
“I’ll tell you no lies.
The only sea I saw
Was the seesaw sea
With you riding on it.
Lie down, lie easy.
Let me shipwreck in your thighs.”

On poisoning someone – interestingly, these were the funniest passages in the book:
“Alone in the hissing laboratory of his wishes, Mr. Pugh minces among bad vats and jeroboams, tiptoes through spinneys of murdering herbs, agony dancing in his crucibles, and mixes especially for Mrs. Pugh a venomous porridge unknown to toxicologists which will scald and viper through her until her ears fall off like figs, her toes grow big and black as balloons, and steam comes screaming out of her navel.”
“…You should wait until you retire to your sty, says Mrs. Pugh, sweet as a razor. His fawning measly quarter-smile freezes. Sly and silent, he foxes into his chemist’s den and there, in a hiss and prussic circle of cauldrons and phials brimming with pox and the Black Death, cooks up a fricassee of deadly nightshade, nicotine, hot frog, cyanide, and bat-spit for his needling stalactite hag and bednag of a pokerbacked nutcracker wife.” ( )
  varwenea | Jan 17, 2016 |
Timeless. This must be one of the finest 'modern' plays. Great to listen to, great to act in, full of memorable quotes and songs. ( )
  bullfinch | Mar 12, 2015 |
Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices: Everyman Definitive Edition introduction and notes by Walford Davies.
I read this edition, as I wanted a greater background to the play. This is the book for that. You can read the play very quickly, but it is probably better for a second reading.
The introduction is nearly 40 pages (and there are copious notes after the play itself). I am glad I spent the time reading the intro as it gave a great insight and whetted the appetite for the actual (short) play. It certainly highlighted interesting and salient parts I would have otherwise missed.
You fall into the play, as you would image from a poet as great as Thomas. Written two years before his death, this was a culmination of his poetry before, but what might have come after may well have surpassed this, using the idea of the village being deemed as mad by bureaucrats and turned into a lunatic asylum, with all the villagers unaware they are defined as ‘mad!’ – “Are you mad in a sane world, or sane in a mad world??” That is the question? Thomas would have written an even better play than this had he not died tragically young (39).
The narration is pure poetry and the surreal nature of the voices is compelling and bewitching, bordering on genius.
Don’t skip the intro, your enjoyment will be lessened, but what you’ve never known, you never miss!
On a similar note if you are about to set sail on Ulysses a similar approach will pay dividends. If you are about to set sail on Finnegan’s Wake, – you’re ‘mad in a sane world!’

The writing IMP ( )
  IanMPindar | Sep 8, 2014 |
This was a totally immersive pleasure. I savoured every word - and they're in abundance as they come at you almost without pause for thought or breath in this extended prose poem - 'a play for voices'. The tempo and rhythm matches that of a day's span: gentle and deliberate at times, busily frenzied at others. I don't know if this is Thomas' masterpiece as I'm only at the beginning of reading his work, but it must surely have been hard to better. It is a small piece of perfection - short in length but leaving a lasting impression. A day in the life of the backwater seaside town of Llareggub. I should say that it is a fictional town, but that almost seems ungrateful on my part - such is the power and vivid impression of his rendering of that place. It is a place alive with spirit and flavour, sounds and smells, tones and tastes. There are ghosts and poetry, dreams and gossip. Hopes and memories abound. At times I was struck by an almost Chagall-like sense of imagery. There are equal parts tragedy and wonder, as well as the fantastic and the banal; and a fair dollop of fruity humour to boot.

I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook version remade by the BBC in 2003, featuring the pitch-perfect original recording of Richard Burton as 'First Voice', together with a new all-Welsh cast of many wonderful voices - including Sian Phillips as 'Second Voice'. I've seen the 1970s film adaptation before but this audio recording was superlative. Now I want a printed edition - and I hope there'll be a suitably designed commemorative one out in 2014 for the Thomas centenary - as I know that I will want to savour this all again, line by line, over and over. As soon as I finished it I put the first disc back in and had to listen to it all over again. It is a magical and beautiful thing. ( )
  Polaris- | Dec 2, 2013 |
This play is written more for radio than for stage, so it's more about voice than image. The work is reminiscent of Spoon River Anthology, except that most of the characters in this are living, and the action takes place over a single day in a small Welsh village. The characters are introduced as they sleep, and visited in their dreams, then as they awake, we move through the day with them, an ordinary day in a small village, nothing special. This is a play where nothing really happens. It's a slice of life on a quotidian day in a quotidian town. Thomas couches it in poetic language, making the events seem more like magic than mundane, and a chorus narrates through the entire play the events that are unfolding as we eavesdrop, occasionally explaining some detail of life that would otherwise go unremarked. A good read, but probably would be even better when spoken. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Jul 2, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dylan Thomasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burton, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Claus, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobble streets silent and the hunched, courters’ – and- rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeback, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or as blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows’ weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfounded town are sleeping now.
And before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes. Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard.// Willy Nilly postman.....downs his last bucket of black brackish tea and rumbles out bandy to the clucking back where the hens twitch and grieve for their tea-soaked sops.// Praise the Lord! We are a musical nation......Reverend Eli Jenkins.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811202097, Paperback)

Completed just before his death in 1953, this work gives the fullest expression to Thomas' sense of the magnificent flavor and variety of life.

A moving and hilarious account of a spring day in a small Welsh coastal town, Under Milk Wood is "lyrical, impassioned and funny, an Our Town given universality" (The New Statesman and Nation).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Music for the songs": p.100-107. Completed just before the author's death in 1953, this comical and dramatic work presents the tale of a single spring day in the lives of 53 characters in a small Welsh village.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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