Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dead Poets

August 1st 2014

All over Britain are remnants of the Celtic people who first inhabited these shores. With various invasions of other cultures, the Romans and then the Angles and Saxons, they got pushed out to the western-most fringes. So you have small Gaelic-speaking populations in Cornwall, England's south westerly point, Wales and the west coast of Scotland and the islands.  Dylan Thomas belonged to such a population, and I do, too, which is maybe why the man sends me into raptures and why I have made my way down to his home town of Swansea for the celebration of his centenary.  

A few days ago, I was heading north to Stonehaven in Scotland when I drove past a sign for the Grassic Gibbon centre and knew I would have to drive back to investigate. Lewis Grassic Gibbon is another of my heroes, because he took the Scottish landscape and made of it a character in his novels, the best of which is "Sunset Song."  This is Scottish literature at its best, not just that the author happens to be Scottish but in which the land is allowed to speak. That longing the author feels for the landscape of his childhood draws the reader in on the level of soull. It literally sings on the page.
Dylan Thomas did this for southern Wales and for the dreamy state of childhood. It is a profound human state, one that turns the writer in exile forever back to the land of his or her birth. And it's what makes you sad when you visit it. The longing can never be sated, and you are sent away again back to the place you live now restless and aching for the ineffable dream.

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