"Under Milk Wood"
by Dylan Thomas
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 29th June 2009I cheated a little and read this while listening to the BBC recording that I had on tape. As a "play for voices" though I think that this was a good way to experience the work, which describes a day in the life of a fictious Welsh fishing village called Llareggub. It's full of memorable characters and vivid turns of phrase (as at the beginning, when night passes through the village "trotting silent, with seaweed on its hooves, along the cockled cobbles") and while the name "Llareggub" is itself an indication of the humour in the play (read it backwards), there are also moments of poignancy - for example when blind old Captain Cat remembers the journeys and people of his long-gone youth.
I think before I read this I had for a long time believed that "Under Milk Wood" was actually a poem and not a play, however it does have many of the qualities that I associate with poetry. The language and imagery is rich and it is less a story and more a series of vignettes or sketches which together paint a picture of the village, greater than the sum of its parts, like a mosaic or a kaledioscope. It is above all hugely enjoyable, and like great poetry I feel that it will reward re-reading. So I'm already looking forward to reading it again.