In 2014 Swansea, Wales will be celebrating the centenary of the birth of one of the world's most distinguished voices, Dylan Thomas. I've always wanted to visit Swansea, where he was born and Laugharne where the poet lived and wrote from his famous Boathouse. (Under Milkwood, originally titled The Town That Was Mad was set in Laugharne). Unfortunately I was unable to find a tour that would take me to all the Dylan Thomas sites and I didn't have enough time to make the side-trip to the Boathouse. So I settled on an afternoon in Swansea and a visit to the Dylan Thomas Centre.
The Dylan Thomas Centre
The poet's image in the window.
I took the train from Cardiff and found it easy enough to make my way through Swansea to the Centre which is located in Swansea's Maritime Quarter. The Centre holds a permanent collection of memorabilia on the poet and his life and hosts the Dylan Thomas Festival during October and November each year. www.dylanthomas.com
As I wandered the exhibits in the Centre the voices of Dylan Thomas and others reciting his work were played over the speakers. The most impressive was that of actor Richard Burton who was a friend and fellow Welshman. Included in the exhibit is one that shows his connection to the poet.
Dylan Thomas TheatreIn the square outside the Centre is a sculpture of Dylan and nearby the Dylan Thomas Theatre. Had I known, and had it not been so rainy and windy, I might have taken time to wander the Swansea City Centre Trail that takes you around the city of Dylan's youth and includes landmark buildings such as the pub he frequented on Wind Street when he was a cub reporter and the fabled "Salubrious Passage".
The Uplands Trail takes you by the house where the poet was born on the 27 October 1914, at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, and where he wrote some of his most important work. The Uplands Hotels was where he got his first taste of beer which became one of his passions. "...its live white lather, its brass-bright depths,the sudden world through the wet brown walls of the glass, the tilted rush to the lips..."
In future, I'll visit Swansea again and make sure to take in the Mumbles and the Gower Trail which were also places important in Dylan's life. But for that one day, despite the wind and rain, I enjoyed my stroll around the city and the few hours I spent immersed in the life of one of my favorite poets.