On 4th February I will have the privilege of hosting the monthly Poems and Pints evening at the splendid Brown’s Hotel in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire. The lavishly talented Sophie McKeand will also be there, reading selections from her recently published collection, Hanes.
Dylan Thomas aficionados will know that the town (which the great man described as ‘the strangest town in Wales’) was his home from 1949 until his death in 1953, that he was a regular in the bar at Brown’s, and that he wrote some of his finest poems there, including the lovely Poem in October.
My attempt at a tribute to Thomas’ genius follows…
Poem in February
Were I to map by the yard
the coastland paths you tramped
swig where you swigged, breathe
the brined air you breathed
and exhale it in stanza billows
only to see them dissipate on the
chill of the shortest month
if I climbed Sir John’s Hill’s
flank, dense with antler oak
scaled it to the very lip, and
looked down to the estuary
then up at the craning sky
would the bird of my poet animus
be hawk on fire or wood pigeon’s
careening gust arc cut short
Might my shore be
more seagull smeared
than heron priested?
My scribbling shed fit only
for potting the nasturtiums?
As the tide, persisting, retreated
regrouped for another assault
would the vinegared cockle
harvested from muddy shimmer
clench, turn bitter on my tongue
and the country, far from blithe
put on a heavy hearted mien?
Or should I compare myself
only to the day-younger me?