Things that never happen in the mountains




A short play about Dylan Thomas

By

Simon Francis Hambrook



Contents

1) Dylan Thomas in the mountains

2) Dylan again

3) Dylan at Tai Chi

4) Dylan and Marilyn

5) Dylan with Lily's

6) Dylan and the half-goat

7) Dylan and the army of Poets

8) Dylan and the Supermarket Notice-board

9) Dylan and the climbing roses

10) Dylan and the proud parent

11) Dylan and the joy poem

12) Dylan and old man Jack

13) Dylan and the staggering love




1) Dylan Thomas in the mountains


“Dylan Thomas! What are you doing here?” I said, seeing him on the crest of the mountain with me.
“Enjoying a pint of Stout with an egg in it.” He said.
“Wow…..Dylan, can I ask you. . . . . . . . . . . . . . when you died did you go to any subtle world like your poems?”
“I went to a place I only in life visited once. A memory I went to which I had kept in me, of a place in Wales, all hilly and lovely where big birds of prey, Kites, flew………I went straight there. “
“Oh I’m glad.” I said.
“And now I’m here, with you. . . . . . . and all around us do you know what that is? . . . . . . . . . it is Affection……….your words, my words, they are just filled by Affection. I exist in it……you exist in it.”
Then he moved closer to me and whispered in my ear: “ In life, be as fearless as the waves.”

There was silence.
Then I said: “ Dylan, why the egg?”
“Ah!, because humour is the best companion.”

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2) Dylan again

“Graceful up here isn’t it?” I said, encountering Dylan again.
“Luscious but not warm. What are those birds?”
“They’re Choughs.” I said.
“By the way they fly – it seems that they’re trying to tell everything that moves to live without alarm.”
“……….They’re special birds, subtle.”
“ You see it too?”
“I once lived on an island and when I arrived in Spring I was the first to set foot there because in the winter the place was uninhabited. The Choughs, a set of seven, sometimes five, sometimes three, would fly around the ruined village. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and for the first month of my stay there I would watch them, and then I knew that they were the inhabitants, not I. You see, they moved away when the people came, the holiday makers, but for a month I saw them glide and lilt in the air so it is imprinted like a tune or a great song in my memory. The way they flew – I was only a guest watching them.”
“They like you too.”
“Pardon?”
“They like a guest who knows he’s a guest.”
“Ah……………………..by the way, I have been meaning to tell you: I don’t really agree with that quotation they have of yours, you know, the one engraved on the Swansea Rail Station floor: ‘Ambition is crucial – Dylan Thomas’ “

“Ah, do you know I remember exactly when I said that. I was escorting a Lady Journalist to my local tavern in Laugharne when I noticed a cat trying to jump up into the branches of a small Cherry tree. The cat attempted it one or two times, and I said to it as it rested for a bit and as it stroked itself in a very nonchalant manner, I was rather drunk: “Ambition is very important, you little limpid, loquacious puss!”
“Really?” I said.
“Yep…………….so what you’ve really got at Swansea station is nothing more than my mis-quoted advice to a feline creature who is no more.”

He sat back with finality, expressing a kind of amused, light-hearted disdain.

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3)Dylan at Tai Chi



“How are you keeping, my little Cock-Sparrow?” – Dylan said.
“Good. Good. Thank you.” I replied.
“You know I have the power of seeing your every move, activity, and even your dreams, don’t you?” He said, satisfied and unabashed, continually smiling.
“No, I didn’t” I said.
“Yes, you did something very poetic on Thursday. You went to a Tai Chi class not because of an interest in Oriental exercise, not to be social. You went there, insisted on just watching, and closed your eyes a lot of the time and imagined you were a Prince with regal performers before you – receiving their divine gifts of Oriental harmony.”
“Yes! I did do that.” I said.
“But then you ruined it by asking the Teacher if you could come each week and just watch. Being a Poet, you explained, you found it very refreshing………………………never tell people you are a Poet. No, no, no, no……….” He went.
Then he added: “It would have been better to come the next week with a Crutch and some bandages, saying you’d like to learn by watching for the time being due to your acute ‘limb duress’”.
“Do you think I should have been quite that erudite, Dylan?”
“Absolutely, big words only harm those with little ears.”
“Dylan, being fairly omnipotent like you say, you’ll have noticed I have not been sleeping very well.”
“I’ve noticed nothing of the sort. I tend to visit you when there is something funny, something light going on.”


“Right……can’t help me then?”
“Not at all. All you need do is put a pound of fresh butter by your pillow and I’ll guarantee that I’ll visit this Sunday.”

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4)Dylan and Marilyn



“I used to see Marilyn Monroe up here quite often.” – Dylan said, viewing the mountains.
“First time was on top of a mountain plateau I climbed to. I was quite tired by the time I got there. She was sitting on a rock in 1950’s mountain gear. She looked about sixteen. Definitely her though.” Then Dylan started their conversation:
“Hello” I said.
“Hi.”
“Marilyn, isn’t it?”
“Yes, or Norma.”
“Yes, of course. What are you doing here?”
“I used to spend a lot of time in the mountains.”
“Really? I wouldn’t have thought it, but that is interesting.”
“Yes, did you know that when I was fifteen I spent a year and a half living with my Uncle in Montana and I would be in the mountains almost every day.”
“No, I had no idea.”
“And then when I was nineteen I spent four months in Kenya, in the mountains, lived in the Wilderness, all on my own.”
“………….mmmmmm.” I said. “Would it be true to say Marilyn that you are a born liar?” I said gently.
She looked at me alluringly. I offered her a rice cake:
“Do you want a rice cake?”
She accepted.
“What is this on top of it?” She asked.
“It’s yoghurt.”
She looked doubtful, a bit put off.
“It’ll be good for your complexion.”
“Oh.” She seemed quietly to approve of it then. She ate it and smiled a sort of pretty but dusty smile.

She got up and we scrambled down together, she in the lead. I had a hard time keeping up with her at times. I was quite impressed by her stamina and would definitely proclaim her to be quite able in the mountains by any standard.”

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5)Dylan with Lily's



“Hey Dylan.” I said, seeing him tucked away in a glade in the sun, below the great hill before us.
“Hey……what’s new?” He said, taking a sip from a glass.
I sat next to him and said: “I went to the dentist today” He sat there, listening.
“It was funny, the dentist, she thought of me as a ‘Lad’.”
Dylan looked at me affectionately, absorbing.
“She even described me as a ‘Lad’ on the phone when she was speaking to someone about me………..I never get called a ‘Lad’ ………that was interesting.”
Dylan lifted up his right arm and I saw that he was holding a bunch of fine Lily’s. He looked at them, surprised, and put them down next to his half-drunk pint of Stout.
“Ah.” He said, evocatively. Then:
“This is what you should have done, you should have said:
“Sorry, I’m clearly not a ‘Lad’. You can see just by looking at me that I’m a Poet, that I’m a clean landscape. You can see when you look in my eyes that I’m Swan-wise and elegant. Look at my frame, how do I contain the subtle seas of my dreaming, I cannot. The picture of an ocean is written all over my body, here at my chest a vital painting of turquoise waves, just waves, framed. Another little picture here where my stomach is of a baby sea, just encountered.

Look, find, and at my temple you will see, if you look now, a diamond shaded by an autumn-yellow tree. Sat in clouds, created-done, dew-hidden.”

“Then she will either say: “Yes, I see those pictures.”, or “ I see nothing here.”, but still there will be the glorious name of a poem in a moment, abundant-kind in the eternal.” He finished.

And he took from his glass but it was the petals of Lily’s.

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6) Dylan and the half-goat



I found him crafting a poem near an old tree beneath The Blessed Hill.
“Hi Dylan.”
“Just a minute……….” He said, and scribbled something, then: “Good day to you, long time since I’ve seen you. How are you then?”
“Good. Good.”
“Excellent, and things new?”
“um, yes, a few things………. I’m thinking of doing a course in Child Philosophy this year, so I’m arranging that. What about you?”
“There haven’t been enough child philosophers.” He replied.
I laughed. “No, it is a course about children……..a philosophical look at them.”
“I know, I know.”
“Anything new with you?” I asked.
“I’ve been doing some plastering.”
“Really? I didn’t know eternal people did things like that.” I said.
“Yep. I love a bit of plastering. Get poetic ideas.”
“………like what?”
“Well, had an idea to write a Play about a man who is half-goat and half-man, who lives in a village where the people don’t mind him. He keeps his horns hidden with a variety of hats.”
“……………tell me more.” I said.
“Well, that’s as far as I’ve got. Take it time by time.”
“Any poetry in it?”
“Yep. The goat’s a Poet.”
“Is that what you’re writing now, a poem………by the goat?”
He nodded and handed me a scribbled page. It was a kind of lament from a goat on not wanting to be half-man:

Enough of the silence of the wide, kind, meadow Larks.
I was here in the fabulous; now foraging the minds of
The smiths of this village to create hay, frayed, fun and to
Sleep in folds.
Enough of the silence of white briars, I want to live in the
Fields of wild thyme, with my kids: Tintin and storm.
Enough of the silence,
I want to live out of houses,
In brambles, brambles.
Pair me with a Kestrel, not a hard wife,
Enough, I know, of the silence.


Enough I know of the silence of Clover,
Well-done are the meals of share in the fields, close by
Streams in the freshness. Spam gives me indigestion.
Enough of the silence of sheared wheat, by radiant sun
Giving dry, love-nourishment.
Enough of the silence of the wild open, and the crayon sky,
Hills of butter and pastel in the make.
Do I want ribbons more than I want Thistles?
Enough I know of the silence.

Enough I know of the silence of fond hands
Giving us purpose in milk and in bucket.
I was ferried away from a shy landscape,
And later my plans became field-less and story-less,
An un-luck in the Amber.
Subtle, something, still in me of the breed Saanen?

Oh enough I know of the silence.

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7) Dylan and the army of Poets



I saw Dylan with a crowd of people, in the wild slopes underneath one of the Brandon peaks.
“Dylan, you’ve got some friends here?” I said.
“Yes, yes, this is an army of Poets.” He pointed out matter-of-factly.
“What are you up to?”
“Were planning an assault on contemporary existential literature.”
“Oh………what are your plans exactly?”
“Were going to inject a healthy dose of subtle, light-full poetry into the imaginations of contemporary writers, arranging night visits where we’ll arrest them in their dreams with profound verses and I personally will be bestowing some ancient Welsh rhyme structures and an Ode on Celandines.”


“Excellent, that sounds very positive.”
“Yes, and if that doesn’t work we’re going to use grenades.”

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8) Dylan and the Supermarket Notice-board



“Dylan! Dylan!” I said, trying to catch up with him as I noticed him in the cleft of the mountains.
“Oh hi.” He said, surreptitiously hiding something.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Grande, Grande.”
“What you been up to?”
“……….well ,,,,,,,, apart from being just eternal in the mountains I’ve also been doing some worldly, bright, rather comical activities.”
“Oh?”
“The world needs humour like a spinster needs daughters.”
“……… like a Mole needs glasses.” I offered.
“Like a Sloth needs caffeine.”
“ ……. Like a diamond needs cutting.” I offered again.
“Like a man with a bike with no handlebars or bell needs handlebars and a bell.”
“Yes, I’m sure you’re right. What is it you’ve been doing?”
“I went to the local Supermarket and looked at the Notice-board: Books for sale, French lessons available, Mobile home for rent. I added some of my own.”
He looked sheepish and yet gleeful, then:
“Eleven videos of the Tour De France 2004. Staggeringly boring. 50 pence.”
I laughed.
“Excellent, I’m sure you will get a call.”
“ You think?........why don’t you have a go?”
“Okay ……….I can’t really think of anything though….”
“Here.” He said, “ Have one of mine.”
He reached in the bag he had hidden, where there were literally hundreds of scraps of paper, and handed me a square, notebook-sized piece of card which read: ‘Submarine for sale. Unwanted Birthday present.’

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9) Dylan and the climbing roses



“How is the play going, Dylan?” I asked
“ Oh that, yes, I’ve got the goat-man buying lots of wallpaper and now he’s relishing his human life more. His lounge is full of dressers with wallpaper motives stamped down with paper-weights.”
“Any poetry?”
“There’s poetry, yes.” He said, as if it was an unusual question. Then:
“This is the goat relishing his manhood:

It is night-time,
Floss, out of the scent of stars coming down in their light,
A ceramic heaven,
With patches of blue flowers created in the May.
It is night-time, moon-like
And the bunnies, the Ewe’s daughters,
They are in crescents in the night.

It is night-time
And the flowing kitchen in my neighbours house wants
The creased dark.
Wishing all the flock of June alive
To share in the decoration, in the red-sing
Of a tin Lion.
I love a house out of bricks and blocks
Begun, and then manifest in this store by a
Cosy, lantern-ed hall.

It is night-time,
A beat begins in a young girls heart.
Famous in her room as a bed Princess with lotion.
She will step out into the gale at random
This night, in explore, steps,
quieter than a horse’s braids.

It is night-time, all is lovely, and we are all Just.
It is night-time, arousing,
And I eat the climbing Rose’s of my neighbours house with silence.

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10) Dylan and the proud parent



“Hello.” I said, noticing a Housewife with me up in the mountains.
“Good-day.” She replied.
“Excellent weather we’re having.” I said.
“Is it? Oh yes, yes, but better than yesterday.”
“You have picked a lovely view.”
“Hope-God and he’ll keep the rain in check.” She said.
“……………. Are you Dylan’s Mother?” I said.
“I am.”
“He’s a lovely man, you must be proud.”
“He’s very dear and very warm.” She said, affection now in her voice.

I had the feeling that to her he was still a boy of ten or eleven. There was poetry in the way she said those words. It made me totally unable to figure whether she meant Dylan was warm-hearted or whether he was young child suffering from a temperature.

She sat there, very sturdy, and like a purposeful person, not just a housewife. She was in every way like a Hen.

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11) Dylan and the joy poem



I saw Dylan the next day in one of the glades of An Meall Mór, The Blessed Hill, and asked him how the Play was getting along.
“You want to know about the goat?”
“Yes.”
“He loves his home-life now. He’s like a kitten on a cushion now. At the village meeting house he was offered a poetry reading. Then he went up on the platform on a Saturday, paused for a long time, daydreaming, happily for his love of human things, and stole the lectern.”
“He’s an interesting character.” I said, smiling.
“None of the town people have heard his poems. For all they know he is distant and caressed. A present of a character who smiles at the Starlings……”
“Any poems?”
“Yes, there’s a poem.” And he cleared his throat and began:

In the street where I look at the feathers, street-laying
With other names,
I am nearly Man; pretending it is the love of a Penny.
Watched by ladies with basins, a coral blouse swishes in
The wind,
And I see the housewives reach, and gather with their
closet arms.

In the street where I look at the Otters swimming, a plaque near the village sign reads: Twinned with the
Ambrosia village.
And I sit in the shine that is kept for the peaceable,
Where daisies got, on a bench for the children.

In the street
Left to the passion of eyebright movements of Swans
I am singing in the seconds.
I am early and happy, and imparted.
And as lacelike as the month.

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12) Dylan and old man Jack



“How’s things? Keeping busy?” I said, seeing Dylan in the mountains.
“Things are mighty, thanks.” Dylan replied, then added:
“I’ve been learning how to sit on benches in the town like the old men do………. Watching the world go by.”
“Is that interesting?” I said.
“It’s an Art. One particular old man I’m learning from can sit, well attired, for a good hour, blissful, blissful.”
“Excellent.” I said.
“He’ll smile to himself, and picture memories of when he had lovers, nights out, days on the ocean. Now totally in the presence of his retirement …………………… I’ve never seen a man get so amused by a passing cat.”
“Do I know him?”
“No-one knows him, not really. They know him as Jack alright, but they don’t know his daily thoughts. Sometimes he has a pound of back rashers with him, but usually he just is, just sits. Being. A more subtle man I have never encountered.”
“What does he think about?”
“Whatever he lets come into his mind: walking cows, the moon at midnight in the warm, daisies out-flowering themselves in a patch in a Church garden………….. He sat yesterday listening to a running stream and had no thought, but yet the radiance of the waters he never saw ………….”

“Sounds like a partner in poetry.”
“Ha! Greater than I ………. His poetry is the unwritten farmer’s love of a day’s blessing, the poetry of the starting-blossom, and brillianter stories there are in him than ever were in mine!”

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13) Dylan and the staggering love



I saw Dylan again on top of the mountain. He had on his hand a tiny snail which he let move from one finger to another. He seemed playful.
“I’ve written my last ever poem.” He said, not looking at me but continuing to play with the snail.
“Your last?”
“ Yep. I’m full of cherishing for other things now, scenery, clouds, shadows on mountains ……………. My heart is a story of Abounding. I’m heaven-caught …. “
“I’m glad for you.”
“It’s good up here, isn’t it? In the air, in the radiance.” He said, looking at me with a friendly smile.
“There’s a feeling like its home.” I said, feeling his contentment.
“Peaceful as a climb.”

The sunny valley-view stretched before us and I felt great and happy just sitting with him there. The shapes that spread over the far green hills in the distance, from shadows from clouds, seemed to collide into each other, and there were dimensions in the fields. I was about to say something to Dylan about the way shades looked into each other, and how it made me feel, but he was not there anymore.

It was just me in the mountains, exquisitely fulfilled, waking from a dream.

A beautiful bird somewhat but not quite like a Raven was flying by my side in the air, for a time which seemed like long hours.

I knew for those seconds when awaking – a great poetry. A purity. Yes, even a staggering love.

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The End

©: Simon Francis Hambrook.




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