Under Milk Wood ( cont 5)

First voice

says Mr Waldo at the smoked herring brown window of the unwashed Sailors Arms,

 

Mr Waldo

with his brolly and his odes. Fill ’em up, Sinbad, I’m on the treacle today.

 

Second voice

The silent fishermen flush down their pints.

 

Sinbad

Oh, Mr Waldo,

 

First voice

sighs Sinbad Sailors,

 

Sinbad

I dote on that Gossamer Beynon. She’s a lady all over.

 

First voice

And Mr Waldo, who is thinking of a woman soft as Eve and sharp as sciatica to share his bread-pudding bed, answers

 

Mr Waldo

No lady that I know is

 

Sinbad

And if only grandma’d die, cross my heart I’d go down on my knees Mr Waldo and I’d say Miss Gossamer I’d say

 

Children’s voices

When birds do sing hey ding a ding a ding

Sweet lovers love the Spring . . .

 

Second voice

Polly Garter sings, still on her knees,

 

Polly Garter

Tom Dick and Harry were three fine men

And I’ll never have such

 

Children

ding a ding

 

Polly Garter

again.

 

First voice

And the morning school is over, and Captain Cat at his curtained schooner’s porthole open to the Spring sun tides hears the naughty forfeiting children tumble and rhyme on the cobbles.

 

Girls’ voices

Gwennie call the boys

They make such a noise.

 

Girl

Boys boys boys

Come along to me’.

 

Girls’ voices

Boys boys boys

Kiss Gwennie where she says

Or give her a penny.

Go on, Gwennie.

 

Girl

Kiss me in Goosegog Lane

Or give me a penny.

What’s your name?

 

First boy

Billy.

 

Girl

Kiss me in Goosegog Lane Billy

Or give me a penny silly.

 

First boy

Gwennie Gwennie

I kiss you in Goosegog Lane.

Now I haven’t got to give you a penny.

 

Girls’ voices

Boys boys boys

Kiss Gwennie where she says

Or give her a penny.

Go on, Gwennie.

 

Girl

Kiss me on Llaregyb Hill

Or give me a penny.

What’s your name?

 

Second boy

Johnnie Cristo.

 

Girl

Kiss me on Llaregyb Hill Johnnie Cristo

Or give me a penny mister.

 

Second boy

Gwennie Gwennie

I kiss you on Llaregyb Hill.

Now I haven’t got to give you a penny.

 

Girls’ voices

Boys boys boys

Kiss Gwennie where she says

Or give her a penny.

Go on, Gwennie.

 

Girl

Kiss me in Milk Wood

Or give me a penny.

What’s your name?

 

Third boy

Dicky.

 

Girl

Kiss me in Milk Wood Dicky

Or give me a penny quickly.

 

Third boy

Gwennie Gwennie

I can’t kiss you in Milk Wood.

 

Girls’ voices

Gwennie ask him why.

 

Girl

Why?

 

Third boy

Because my mother says I mustn’t.

 

Girls’ voices

Cowardy cowardy custard

Give Gwennie a penny.

 

Girl

Give me a penny.

 

Third boy

I haven’t got any.

 

Girls’ voices

Put him in the river

Up to his liver

Quick quick Dirty Dick

Beat him on the bum

With a rhubarb stick.

Aiee!

Hush!

 

First voice

And the shrill girls giggle and master around him and squeal as they clutch and thrash, and he blubbers away downhill with his patched pants falling, and his tear-splashed blush burns all the way as the triumphant bird-like sisters scream with buttons in their claws and the bully brothers hoot after him his little nickname and his mother’s shame and his father’s wickedness with the loose wild barefoot women of the hovels of the hills. It all means nothing at all, and, howling for his milky mum, for her cawl and buttermilk and cowbreath and welshcakes and the fat birth-smelling bed and moonlit kitchen of her arms, he’ll never forget as he paddles blind home through the weeping end of the world. Then his tormentors tussle and run to the Cockle Street sweet-shop, their pennies sticky as honey, to buy from Miss Myfanwy Price, who is cocky and neat as a puff-bosomed robin and her small round buttocks tight as ticks, gobstoppers big as wens that rainbow as you suck, brandyballs, winegums, hundreds and thousands, liquorice sweet as sick, nougat to tug and ribbon out like another red rubbery tongue, gum to glue in girls’ curls, crimson coughdrops to spit blood, ice-cream comets, dandelion-and-burdock, raspberry and cherryade, pop goes the weasel and the wind.

 

Second voice

Gossamer Beynon high-heels out of school The sun hums down through the cotton flowers of her dress into the bell of her heart and buzzes in the honey there and couches and kisses, lazy-loving and boozed, in her red-berried breast. Eyes run from the trees and windows of the street, steaming ‘Gossamer,’ and strip her to the nipples and the bees. She blazes naked past the Sailors Arms, the only woman on the Dai–Adamed earth. Sinbad Sailors places on her thighs still dewdamp from the first mangrowing cockcrow garden his reverent goat-bearded hands.

 

Gossamer Beynon

I don’t care if he is common,

 

Second voice

she whispers to her salad-day deep self,

 

Gossamer Beynon

I want to gobble him up. I don’t care if he does drop his aitches,

 

Second voice

she tells the stripped and mother-of-the-world big-beamed and Eve-hipped spring of her self,

 

Gossamer Beynon

so long as he’s all cucumber and hooves.

 

Second voice

Sinbad Sailors watches her go by, demure and proud and schoolmarm in her crisp flower dress and sun-defying hat, with never a look or lilt or wriggle, the butcher’s unmelting icemaiden daughter veiled for ever from the hungry hug of his eyes.

 

Sinbad Sailors

Oh, Gossamer Beynon, why are you so proud?

 

Second voice

he grieves to his guinness,

 

Sinbad Sailors

Oh, beautiful beautiful Gossamer B, I wish I wish that you were for me. I wish you were not so educated.

 

Second voice

She feels his goatbeard tickle her in the middle of the world like a tuft of wiry fire, and she turns in a terror of delight away from his whips and whiskery conflagration, and sits down in the kitchen to a plate heaped high with chips and the kidneys of lambs.

 

First voice

 

In the blind-drawn dark dining-room of School House, dusty and echoing as a dining-room in a vault, Mr and Mrs Pugh are silent over cold grey cottage pie. Mr Pugh reads, as he forks the shroud meat in, from Lives of the Great Poisoners. He has bound a plain brown-paper cover round the book. Slyly, between slow mouthfuls, he sidespies up at Mrs Pugh, poisons her with his eye, then goes on reading. He underlines certain passages and smiles in secret.

Mrs Pugh

Persons with manners do not read at table,

 

First voice

says Mrs Pugh. She swallows a digestive tablet as big as a horse-pill, washing it down with clouded peasoup water.

 

[Pause

 

Mrs Pugh

Some persons were brought up in pigsties.

 

Mr Pugh

Pigs don’t read at table, dear.

 

First voice

Bitterly she flicks dust from the broken cruet. It settles on the pie in a thin gnat-rain.

 

Mr Pugh

Pigs can’t read, my dear.

 

Mrs Pugh

I know one who can.

 

First voice

Alone in the hissing laboratory of his wishes, Mr Pugh minces among bad vats and jeroboams, tiptoes through spinneys of murdering herbs, agony dancing in his crucibles, and mixes especially for Mrs Pugh a venomous porridge unknown to toxicologists which will scald and viper through her until her ears fall off like figs, her toes grow big and black as balloons, and steam comes screaming out of her navel.

 

Mr Pugh

You know best, dear,

 

First voice

says Mr Pugh, and quick as a flash he ducks her in rat soup.

 

Mrs Pugh

What’s that book by your trough, Mr Pugh?

 

Mr Pugh

It’s a theological work, my dear. Lives of the Great Saints.

 

First voice

Mrs Pugh smiles. An icicle forms in the cold air of the dining-vault.

 

Mrs Pugh

I saw you talking to a saint this morning. Saint Polly Garter. She was martyred again last night. Mrs Organ Morgan saw her with Mr Waldo.

 

Mrs organ Morgan

And when they saw me they pretended they were looking for nests,

 

Second voice

said Mrs Organ Morgan to her husband, with her mouth full of fish as a pelican’s.

 

Mrs organ Morgan

But you don’t go nesting in long combinations, I said to myself, like Mr Waldo was wearing, and your dress nearly over your head like Polly Garter’s. Oh, they didn’t fool me.

 

Second voice

One big bird gulp, and the flounder’s gone. She licks her lips and goes stabbing again.

 

Mrs organ Morgan

And when you think of all those babies she’s got, then all I can say is she’d better give up bird nesting that’s all I can say, it isn’t the right kind of hobby at all for a woman that can’t say No even to midgets. Remember Bob Spit? He wasn’t any bigger than a baby and he gave her two. But they’re two nice boys, I will say that, Fred Spit and Arthur. Sometimes I like Fred best and sometimes I like Arthur. Who do you like best, Organ?

 

Organ Morgan

Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

 

Mrs organ Morgan

Organ Morgan, you haven’t been listening to a word 1 said. It’s organ organ all the time with you..

 

First voice

And she bursts into tears, and, in the middle of her salty howling, nimbly spears a small flatfish and pelicans it whole.

 

Organ Morgan

And then Palestrina,

 

Second voice

says Organ Morgan.

 

First voice

 

Lord Cut–Glass, in his kitchen full of time, squats down alone to a dogdish, marked Fido, of peppery fish-scraps and listens to the voices of his sixty-six clocks, one for each year of his loony age, and watches, with love, their black-and-white moony loudlipped faces tocking the earth away: slow clocks, quick clocks, pendulumed heart-knocks, china, alarm, grandfather, cuckoo; clocks shaped like Noah’s whirring Ark, clocks that bicker in marble ships, clocks in the wombs of glass women, hourglass chimers, tu-wit-tuwoo clocks, clocks that pluck tunes, Vesuvius clocks all black bells and lava, Niagara clocks that cataract their ticks, old time-weeping clocks with ebony beards, clocks with no hands for ever drumming out time without ever knowing what time it is. His sixty-six singers are all set at different hours. Lord Cut–Glass lives in a house and a life at siege. Any minute or dark day now, the unknown enemy will loot and savage downhill, but they will not catch him napping. Sixty-six different times in his fish-slimy kitchen ping, strike, tick, chime, and tock.

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