I am just cool enough to be really into Dylan Thomas. (I know, I know, sometimes my cutting edge taste can be too much to handle.) I love most of his poetry, much of his prose, and Under Milk Wood is probably my favorite play to read if you discount Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard. But my first encounter with him always remains my favorite. I know it’s technically not even poetry and I know it’s is very much the wrong time of year for this, but I can’t seem to resist. And so, without further ado, I bring you the opening passage of A Child’s Christmas in Wales:
One Christmas was so much like the other, in those years around the sea-town corner now, out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
All the Christmases roll down towards the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged, fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.
There are a lot of editions of this one floating around out there, but here are two of my favorites: the New Directions one with Ellen Raskin’s original woodcuts, and an edition illustrated by the inimitable Trina Schart Hyman.
Also, if you’ve never heard Dylan Thomas reading his stuff aloud, drop everything, close your eyes, and listen to this.