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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, March 08, 2003
    Kingdom's Thomas treat
    A Dylan Thomas day. Began at 6.40am with my Thought for the Day quoting And death shall have no dominion. And ended with an exceptional performance at The Playhouse of Bob Kingdom's Dylan Thomas: Return Journey.

    Kingdom might have been Thomas himself, he was that convincing. So much of what he said in the mode of Thomas on his fateful last lecture tour I knew already, from the recordings I filched from the English Department at Cardiff Uni while studying for my DT long essay, one of the most enjoyable and rewarding pieces of academic work IÕve ever done.

    The performance included And death shall have no dominion and other greats such as Fern Hill, Do not go gentle into that good night, and a wonderfully entertaining rendition of The Outing.

    What capped the evening was the twenty-minute post-performance ÔaudienceÕ with Bob Kingdom, to which half the (sizeable) audience stayed, and which was full of insights born of KingdomÕs seventeen years performing the play, honing it as heÕs gone, still seeing every performance as unique, still discovering new things about Thomas from the words and the audiences' stories as he goes.

    KingdomÕs fist words about Thomas were that heÕs a ÕspiritualÕ poet. By that he meant one who made deep, profound connections between mortal beings and nature. I felt that too, earlier in the evening, when he recited a classic, The force that through the green fuse drives the flower, so physical I could hear the blood in my veins responding:
      The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
      Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
      Is my destroyer.
      And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
      My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

      The force that drives the water through the rocks
      Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
      Turns mine to wax.
      And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
      How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

      The hand that whirls the water in the pool
      Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
      Hauls my shroud sail.
      And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
      How my clay is made the hangman's lime.

      The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
      Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
      Shall calm her sores.
      And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
      How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

      And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
      How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.