Dylan Thomas marked turning 30 with a walk up Sir John’s Hill, a slope overlooking Laugharne, Wales, a walk he remembered in words as “Poem in October.” Mortality writhes in his verse, turning with the trail, twisting with views of the estuary and its herons, the village castle and the boathouse where he would spend his final years.
My birthday began with the water –
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in shower of all my days
Bob Stevens, the dairy farmer who now owns the lyrical land, celebrates his birthday with the same stroll; every October 7, he climbs the hill with his children in tow, reciting the autumnal lines. After years of small-town wrangling, he now invites visitors to do the same along his just-opened Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk, a two-mile public tribute to the Welsh poet and his poetry. Perhaps I will celebrate my next thirtysomething year in this “sea wet” scene on the “hill’s shoulder,” shrouded in this woolen poncho.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
In this high hill in a year’s turning.