Dylan Thomas comes alive

I’m breathless,

We are just back to Port after the winter break. Its incredible what it has withstood, without us. A winter where temperatures went down to minus 15…and winter on the raw edge of the Atlantic can be punishing.The cottage stood waiting for us, like a loyal dog.

Who would have thought it? Yesterday, we emerged from the cottage to see a spring you dream of. Though our sheep in the Midlands have already birthed, the shaggy Donegal flocks are lambing now. In the stone-walled field next door, we saw a lamb no more than a couple of hours old – staggering, fragile and china white, behind its mother. And what a thing for your first sight of the world to be Port.

It has been very dry this April, the streams are low, the blogs barely squelching, but the grass is still fresh and green. The first heather is blossoming, small and white, crunchy. We walk barefoot – feeling the land’s differences. Some of the grass is soft and springy, moss-depthed, and woven together. Other parts are like walking on the cropped pelt of a lion, tough and stringy.

Our concession to a garden has emerged, huge bunches of narcissus bend behind the lichened stone walls, , while on the rocks around the sea-shore, the everlasting flowers are blooming. We scrambled over the plated rocks around a lively sea. The air was almost edible with the freshness of seaweed. We watched the lobstermen’s wooden boat being tossed around in the big swell. The children played chicken on the edge of the shore, dashing away from anything too big. The sunned ocean, laced with surf and gashed by rocks was too utterly breath-taking to absorb. In a world where we tire of things so fast, how can a place like this just continue to rise in stature? It is something to do with absolutes – real values of beauty.

We walked along the sheeps cliff path all the way north to the top of the next valley Glenlough, (where Dylan Thomas stayed in 1934) which always feels like a walk to the wilderness. No one was here. Black choughs bleeted and hung on the cliff back-drafts; we found fox scat in several places (we heard him cry last night, he must be here for the lambs) – and at the top of the rise, the land fell away to one of the most awesome coves of all this coast – Glenlough beach. From a thousand feet up, its colours were tropical – the sea, shot with froth and air and the turbulence of tossed rock, was turquoise. The beach pebbles, laid in a generous crescent, were pale yellow.It was very very alone.

But it was the noise of this utterly abandoned beach that was more miraculous than all else  – it was funnelled up to us through the cliff ravines and slid up the steep banks of scree – the breathing, or panting, of the sea on the shore, a sound of the universe, a genuine OM…as the water  coiled itself around the rounded beach pebbles and dragged them forward and back, forward and back. A sonorous, scraping lament that continues day and night, year on year on year.  Dylan Thomas called this “the beach of a thousand sounding stones”.

I know the quote, but have yet to find the poem…someone help me here…?

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