Starless and bible-black

November 11, 2006

To begin at the beginning:
It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.

The film star Richard Burton was born in the village of Pontrhydyfen near Port Talbot. A plaque was unveiled to his memory in that village yesterday on what would have been his 81st birthday. Many will remember him for his roles in films and his five marriages: twice to Elizabeth Taylor. However for me, the memory that always comes back when I hear his name is his performance as First Voice in the BBC recording of Under Milk Wood. The opening verse of that radio play is to my mind unrivaled and demonstrates the power of Dylan Thomas as a poet. However Burton’s voice took the poetry to a different level. I quote it in part above.

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