Under Milk Wood ( cont 6)

Second voice

The lust and lilt and lather and emerald breeze and crackle of the bird-praise and body of Spring with its breasts full of rivering May-milk, means, to that lordly fish-head nibbler, nothing but another nearness to the tribes and navies of the Last Black Day who’ll sear and pillage down Armageddon Hill to his double-locked rusty-shuttered tick-tock dust-scrabbled shack at the bottom of the town that has fallen head over bells in love.

 

Polly Garter

And I’ll never have such loving again,

 

Second voice

pretty Polly hums and longs.

 

Polly Garter [Sings]

 

Now when farmers’ boys on the first fair day

Come down from the hills to drink and be gay,

Before the sun sinks I’ll lie there in their arms

For they’re good bad boys from the lonely farms,

 

But I always think as we tumble into bed

Of little Willy Wee who is dead, dead, dead . . .

 

[A silence

 

First voice

The sunny slow lulling afternoon yawns and moons through the dozy town. The sea lolls, laps and idles in, with fishes sleeping in its lap. The meadows still as Sunday, the shut-eye tasselled bulls, the goat-anddaisy dingles, nap happy and lazy. The dumb duck-ponds snooze. Clouds sag and pillow on Llaregyb Hill. Pigs grunt in a wet wallow-bath, and smile as they snort and dream. They dream of the acorned swill of the world, the rooting for pig-fruit, the bagpipe dugs of the mother sow, the squeal and snuffle of yesses of the women pigs in rut. They mud-bask and snout in the pig-loving sun; their tails curl; they rollick and slobber and snore to deep, smug, after-swill sleep. Donkeys angelically drowse on Donkey Down.

 

Mrs Pugh

Persons with manners,

 

Second voice

snaps Mrs cold Pugh,

 

Mrs Pugh

do not nod at table.

 

First voice

Mr Pugh cringes awake. He puts on a soft-soaping smile: it is sad and grey under his nicotine-eggyellow weeping walrus Victorian moustache worn thick and long in memory of Doctor Crippen.

 

Mrs Pugh

You should wait until you retire to your sty,

 

Second voice

says Mrs Pugh, sweet as a razor. His fawning measly quarter-smile freezes. Sly and silent, he foxes into his chemist’s den and there, in a hiss and prussic circle of cauldrons and phials brimful with pox and the Black Death, cooks up a fricassee of deadly nightshade, nicotine, hot frog, cyanide and bat-spit for his needling stalactite hag and bednag of a pokerbacked nutcracker wife.

 

Mr Pugh

I beg your pardon, my dear,

 

Second voice

he murmurs with a wheedle.

 

First voice

Captain Cat, at his window thrown wide to the sun and the clippered seas he sailed long ago when his eyes were blue and bright, slumbers and voyages; ear-ringed and rolling, I Love You Rosie Probert tattooed on his belly, he brawls with broken bottles in the fug and babel of the dark dock bars, roves with a herd of short and good time cows in every naughty port and twines and souses with the drowned and blowzy-breasted dead. He weeps as he sleeps and sails.

 

Second voice

One voice of all he remembers most dearly as his dream buckets down. Lazy early Rosie with the flaxen thatch, whom he shared with Tom–Fred the donkeyman and many another seaman, clearly and near to him speaks from the bedroom of her dust. In that gulf and haven, fleets by the dozen have anchored for the little heaven of the night; but she speaks to Captain napping Cat alone. Mrs Probert . . .

 

Rosie Probert

from Duck Lane, Jack. Quack twice and ask for Rosie

 

Second voice

. . . is the one love of his sea-life that was sardined with women.

 

Rosie Probert [Softly]

 

What seas did you see,

Tom Cat, Tom Cat,

In your sailoring days

Long long ago?

What sea beasts were

In the wavery green

When you were my master?

 

Captain Cat

I’ll tell you the truth.

Seas barking like

seals, Blue seas and green,

Seas covered with eels

And mermen and whales.

 

Rosie Probert

What seas did you sail

Old whaler when

On the blubbery waves

Between Frisco and Wales

You were my bosun?

 

Captain Cat

As true as I’m here

Dear you Tom Cat’s tart

You landlubber Rosie

You cosy love

My easy as easy

My true sweetheart,

Seas green as a bean

Seas gliding with swans

In the seal-barking moon.

 

Rosie Probert

What seas were rocking

My little deck hand

My favourite husband

In your seaboots and hunger

My duck my whaler

My honey my daddy

My pretty sugar sailor.

With my name on your belly

When you were a boy

Long long ago?

 

Captain Cat

I’ll tell you no lies.

The only sea I saw

Was the seesaw sea

With you riding on it.

Lie down, lie easy.

Let me shipwreck in your thighs.

 

Rosie Probert,

 

Knock twice, Jack,

At the door of my grave

And ask for Rosie.

 

Captain Cat

Rosie Probert.

 

Rosie Probert

Remember her.

She is forgetting.

The earth which filled her mouth

Is vanishing from her.

Remember me.

I have forgotten you.

I am going into the darkness of the darkness for ever.

I have forgotten that I was ever born.

 

Child

Look,

 

First voice

says a child to her mother as they pass by the window of Schooner House,

 

Child

Captain Cat is crying

 

First voice

Captain Cat is crying

 

Captain Cat

Come back, come back,

 

First voice

up the silences and echoes of the passages of the eternal night.

 

Child

He’s crying all over his nose,

 

First voice

says the child. Mother and child move on down the street.

 

Child

He’s got a nose like strawberries,

 

First voice

the child says; and then she forgets him too. She sees in the still middle of the bluebagged bay Nogood Boyo fishing from the Zanzibar.

 

Child

Nogood Boyo gave me three pennies yesterday but I wouldn’t,

 

First voice

the child tells her mother.

 

Second voice

Boyo catches a whalebone corset. It is all he has caught all day.

 

Nogood Boyo

Bloody funny fish!

 

Second voice

Mrs Dai Bread Two gypsies up his mind’s slow eye, dressed only in a bangle.

 

Nogood Boyo

She’s wearing her nightgown. [Pleadingly] Would you like this nice wet corset, Mrs Dai Bread Two?

 

Mrs Dai Bread Two

No, I won’t!

 

Nogood Boyo

And a bite of my little apple?

 

Second voice

he offers with no hope.

 

First voice

She shakes her brass nightgown, and he chases her out of his mind; and when he comes gusting back, there in the bloodshot centre of his eye a geisha girl grins and bows in a kimono of ricepaper.

 

Nogood Boyo

I want to be good Boyo, but nobody’ll let me,

 

First voice

he sighs as she writhes politely. The land fades, the sea flocks silently away; and through the warm white cloud where he lies, silky, tingling, uneasy Eastern music undoes him in a Japanese minute.

 

Second voice

The afternoon buzzes like lazy bees round the flowers round Mae Rose Cottage. Nearly asleep in the field of nannygoats who hum and gently butt the sun, she blows love on a puffball.

 

Mae Rose Cottage [Lazily]

 

He loves me

He loves me not

He loves me

He loves me not

He loves me! — the dirty old fool.

 

Second voice

Lazy she lies alone in clover and sweet-grass, seventeen and never been sweet in the grass ho ho.

 

First voice

The Reverend Eli Jenkins inky in his cool front parlour or poem-room tells only the truth in his Lifework — the Population, Main Industry, Shipping, History, Topography, Flora and Fauna of the town he worships in-the White Book of Llaregyb. Portraits of famous bards and preachers, all fur and wool from the squint to the kneecaps, hang over him heavy as sheep, next to faint lady watercolours of pale green Milk Wood like a lettuce salad dying. His mother, propped against a pot in a palm, with her wedding-ring waist and bust like a black-clothed dining-table suffers in her stays.

 

Rev. Eli Jenkins

Oh angels be careful there with your knives and forks,

 

First voice

he prays. There is no known likeness of his father Esau, who, undogcollared because of his little weakness, was scythed to the bone one harvest by mistake when sleeping with his weakness in the corn. He lost all ambition and died, with one leg.

 

Rev. Eli Jenkins

Poor Dad,

 

Second voice

grieves the Reverend Eli,

 

Rev. Eli Jenkins

to die of drink and agriculture.

 

Second voice

Farmer Watkins in Salt Lake Farm hates his cattle on the hill as he ho’s them in to milking.

 

Utah Watkins [In a fury]

 

Damn you, you damned dairies!

 

Second voice

A cow kisses him.

 

Utah Watkins

Bite her to death!

 

Second voice

he shouts to his deaf dog who smiles and licks his hands.

 

Utah Watkins

Gore him, sit on him, Daisy!

 

Second voice

 

he bawls to the cow who barbed him with her tongue, and she moos gentle words as he raves and dances among his summerbreathed slaves walking delicately to the farm. The coming of the end of the Spring day is already reflected in the lakes of their great eyes. Bessie Bighead greets them by the names she gave them when they were maidens.

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