Under Milk Wood

[Silence]

First voice [Very softly]

 

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, fishingboatbobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows’ weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.

 

Hush, the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers, the tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher, postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman, drunkard, dressmaker, preacher, policeman, the webfoot cocklewomen and the tidy wives. Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glowworms down the aisles of the organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrodgered sea. And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields, and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wetnosed yards; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly, streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.

 

You can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing. Only your eyes are unclosed to see the black and folded town fast, and slow, asleep. And you alone can hear the invisible starfall, the darkest-beforedawn minutely dewgrazed stir of the black, dab-filled sea where the Arethusa, the Curlew and the Skylark, Zanzibar, Rhiannon, the Rover, the Cormorant, and the Star of Wales tilt and ride.

 

Listen. It is night moving in the streets, the processional salt slow musical wind in Coronation Street and Cockle Row, it is the grass growing on Llaregyb Hill, dewfall, starfall, the sleep of birds in Milk Wood.

 

Listen. It is night in the chill, squat chapel, hymning in bonnet and brooch and bombazine black, butterfly choker and bootlace bow, coughing like nannygoats, sucking mintoes, fortywinking hallelujah; night in the four-ale, quiet as a domino; in Ocky Milkman’s lofts like a mouse with gloves; in Dai Bread’s bakery flying like black flour. It is to-night in Donkey Street, trotting silent, With seaweed on its hooves, along the cockled cobbles, past curtained fernpot, text and trinket, harmonium, holy dresser, watercolours done by hand, china dog and rosy tin teacaddy. It is night neddying among the snuggeries of babies.

 

Look. It is night, dumbly, royally winding through the Coronation cherry trees; going through the graveyard of Bethesda with winds gloved and folded, and dew doffed; tumbling by the Sailors Arms.

 

Time passes. Listen. Time passes.

 

Come closer now.

 

Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night. Only you can see, in the blinded bedrooms, the coms. and petticoats over the chairs, the jugs and basins, the glasses of teeth, Thou Shalt Not on the wall, and the yellowing dickybird-watching pictures of the dead. Only you can hear and see, behind the eyes of the sleepers, the movements and countries and mazes and colours and dismays and rainbows and tunes and wishes and flight and fall and despairs and big seas of their dreams.

 

From where you are, you can hear their dreams.

 

Captain Cat, the retired blind sea-captain, asleep in his bunk in the seashelled, ship-inbottled, shipshape best cabin of Schooner House dreams of

 

Second voice

never such seas as any that swamped the decks of his S.S. Kidwelly bellying over the bedclothes and jellyfish-slippery sucking him down salt deep into the Davy dark where the fish come biting out and nibble him down to his wishbone, and the long drowned nuzzle up to him.

 

First drowned

Remember me, Captain?

 

Captain Cat

You’re Dancing Williams!

 

First drowned

I lost my step in Nantucket.

 

Second drowned

Do you see me, Captain? the white bone talking? I’m Tom–Fred the donkeyman . . . we shared the same girl once . . . her name was Mrs Probert . . .

 

Woman’s voice

Rosie Probert, thirty three Duck Lane. Come on up, boys, I’m dead.

 

Third drowned

Hold me, Captain, I’m Jonah Jarvis, come to a bad end, very enjoyable.

 

Fourth drowned

Alfred Pomeroy Jones, sea-lawyer, born in Mumbles, sung like a linnet, crowned you with a flagon, tattooed with mermaids, thirst like a dredger, died of blisters.

 

First drowned

This skull at your earhole is

 

Fifth drowned

Curly Bevan. Tell my auntie it was me that pawned he ormolu clock.

 

Captain Cat

Aye, aye, Curly.

 

Second drowned

Tell my missus no I never

 

Third drowned

I never done what she said I never.

 

Fourth drowned

Yes they did.

 

Fifth drowned

And who brings coconuts and shawls and parrots to my Gwen now?

 

First drowned

How’s it above?

 

Second drowned

Is there rum and laverbread?

 

Third drowned

Bosoms and robins?

 

Fourth drowned

Concertinas?

 

Fifth drowned

Ebenezer’s bell?

 

First drowned

Fighting and onions?

 

Second drowned

And sparrows and daisies?

 

Third drowned

Tiddlers in a jamjar?

 

Fourth drowned

Buttermilk and whippets?

 

Fifth drowned

Rock-a-bye baby?

 

First drowned

Washing on the line?

 

Second drowned

And old girls in the snug?

 

Third drowned

How’s the tenors in Dowlais?

 

Fourth drowned

Who milks the cows in Maesgwyn?

 

Fifth drowned

When she smiles, is there dimples?

 

First drowned

What’s the smell of parsley?

 

Captain Cat

Oh, my dead dears!

 

First voice

From where you are you can hear in Cockle Row in the spring, moonless night, Miss Price, dressmaker and sweetshop-keeper, dream of

 

Second voice

her lover, tall as the town clock tower, Samsonsyrup-gold-maned, whacking thighed and piping hot, thunderbolt-bass’d and barnacle-breasted, flailing up the cockles with his eyes like blowlamps and scooping low over her lonely loving hotwaterbottled body.

 

Mr Edwards

Myfanwy Price!

 

Miss Price

Mr Mog Edwards!

 

Mr Edwards

I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore, cretonne, crepon, muslin, poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of the world. I have come to take you away to my Emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast.

 

Miss Price

I will knit you a wallet of forget-me-not blue, for the money, to be comfy. I will warm your heart by the fire so that you can slip it in under your vest when the shop is closed.

 

Mr Edwards

Myfanwy, Myfanwy, before the mice gnaw at your bottom drawer will you say

 

Miss Price

Yes, Mog, yes, Mog, yes, yes, yes.

 

Mr Edwards

And all the bells of the tills of the town shall ring for our wedding.

 

[Noise of money-tills and chapel bells

 

First voice

Come now, drift up the dark, come up the drifting sea-dark street now in the dark night seesawing like the sea, to the bible-black airless attic over Jack Black the cobbler’s shop where alone and savagely Jack Black sleeps in a nightshirt tied to his ankles with elastic and dreams of

 

Second voice

chasing the naughty couples down the grassgreen gooseberried double bed of the wood, flogging the tosspots in the spit-and-sawdust, driving out the bare bold girls from the sixpenny hops of his nightmares.

 

Jack Black [Loudly]

 

Ach y fi!

Ach y fi!

 

First voice

Evans the Death, the undertaker,

 

Second voice

laughs high and aloud in his sleep and curls up his toes as he sees, upon waking fifty years ago, snow lie deep on the goosefield behind the sleeping house; and he runs out into the field where his mother is making welsh-cakes in the snow, and steals a fistful of snowflakes and currants and climbs back to bed to eat them cold and sweet under the warm, white clothes while his mother dances in the snow kitchen crying out for her lost currants.

 

First voice

 

And in the little pink-eyed cottage next to the undertaker’s, lie, alone, the seventeen snoring gentle stone of Mister Waldo, rabbitcatcher, barber, herbalist, catdoctor, quack, his fat pink hands, palms up, over the edge of the patchwork quilt, his black boots neat and tidy in the washing-basin, his bowler on a nail above the bed, a milk stout and a slice of cold bread pudding under the pillow; and, dripping in the dark, he dreams of

Estás leyendo en Ablik

Cerrar