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Under Milk Wood

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  4,490 Ratings  ·  287 Reviews
A moving and hilarious account of a spring day in a small Welsh coastal town, Under Milk Wood is "lyrical, impassioned and funny, an Our Town given universality" (The New Statesman and Nation).
Paperback, 121 pages
Published January 17th 1954 by New Directions Publishing Corporation (NYC_ (first published 1953)
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Marqueemoon A bit late but for anyone considering getting an audio version I can highly recommend the 1954 version with Richard Burton from Naxos AudioBooks - as…moreA bit late but for anyone considering getting an audio version I can highly recommend the 1954 version with Richard Burton from Naxos AudioBooks - as well as Under Milk Wood there are a couple of radio broadcasts with Dylan Thomas reading his own work. There are other versions - a 1963 BBC play which also had Burton narrating and has lines not used in the 1954 version. I find the voices in the 54 reading much more captivating. IN the 63 version some actors seem to be the same as the 54 recording but some are definitely not. In both the songs are great, perfectly positioned, simple and natural. If I can't sleep I put this on my tablet, not because it is boring but because you can drift off into the world of llareggub and to the wonderful performances of the actors, most of whom must be dead after 60 plus years.(less)

Community Reviews

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Petra X smoke fish no cigar
Rewritten July 30th, 2011, read way back when and reread 2011

Some works of literature just beg to be read out loud - This is the House that Jack Built and Hiawatha are two that most people are familiar with. Under Milk Wood too, is better appreciated read aloud.

A sample (read aloud with Welsh accent, sing-song, go up like a question at the end of the line):


Mr Pugh, in the School House opposite, takes up the morning
tea to Mrs Pugh, and whispers on the stairs


Here's your arseni
Feb 14, 2015 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: The lovers, the dreamers, and me
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Lauren
Shelves: poetry, plays, dreamlike
We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood.

The voices of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood rise and fall, crashing into each other like waves under a milky moon, their sweet prose an effervescence of sounds and syllables to intoxicate the soul. This ‘play for voices’ follows the lives of the citizens of Milk Wood across a full day, bookmarked by the surrealistically sensational dream sequences of the two nights. The play simply engulfs you in its beautiful embrace, like the wa
Jun 06, 2009 Trevor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
I can honestly say that the world would be a lesser place if I had never read this play. It is not just that it is laugh-out-loud funny or that it is sad enough to make me weep - Captain Cat being forgotten by Rosie near the end is almost too painful to remember. But it is so full, so wonderfully overflowing with all the day to day concerns of life and love that it is a world in and of itself. Here is true creative genius.

From husbands purchasing books on how to poison their wives to the terribl
Nov 21, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it
I like Dylan Thomas for two reasons
1. I grew up in Wales
2. I read his book Under Milk Wood when I was in school.

Wales is a strange place to grow up. For a start you're told as a child that it's full of castles and dragons and daffodils and that there is evil over the border (England) and that Rugby is the one true sport. Some of those things are true. I'm sure even Dylan Thomas thought them from time to time. I lived outside Cardiff and Thomas was busily engaged in being Welsh in and around the
Dec 17, 2014 Mimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like wordplay
Not a play or a poem, exactly. This was written to be performed as a BBC radio drama, and it's about life in a sleepy town in Wales. We follow a few characters as they go from dream to wakefulness and then move through the rest of their day. We get to hear their thoughts and reflections as they do every day things. Sounds very dull, I know, which is why you have to read (or listen to) it for yourself.

In the tradition of small towns (both fictional and nonfictional), everyone has a big secret. Ea
Feb 25, 2016 Fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember the first time I came across Under Milk Wood, and it was when I was learning about imagery for my GCSEs. I fell in love with it - and, of course, with Richard Burton's beautiful First Voice.

One joy of being an English teacher is teaching your favourite texts to someone new - which I'm pretty sure was what was happening to to me, the first time I was taught this. It wasn't on the syllabus.

Another joy is that you can take playful, inventive, poetic language and give it to a kid who's in
Jul 07, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays-seen

Dylan Thomas originally intended this work to be radio play. However, my first experience of it was seeing the film adaptation narrated by Richard Burton, back when I was in high school in the 1970s. I remember two things about the experience: loving the sound of Richard Burton's voice, and feeling overwhelmed. This extract from the review in the New York Times goes some way to explaining my reaction:
Too many words, perhaps, for the stage. Too many words, I'm convinced, for the screen. It's not
A smorgasbord of language. I am still blown away every time I read that first measured sentence, about the woodland ‘limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea’.

If you only knew Dylan Thomas from his short poems (as I did before I read this) then prepare for a very pleasant shock. The wonderful rhythm of the lines here, the extraordinary creativity of compound words and unexpected similes, all sustained over a considerable distance, is something quit
Vit Babenco
Feb 05, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Sundown dazzling day gold through my eyes but my eyes turned within only see starless and bible black…” King CrimsonStarless.
Under Milk Wood has a texture of a lyrical myth so it is timeless…
People sleep and they dream... People wake up and they play fools, dawdle, muck around, misbehave, recollect, fantasize and build castles in the air…
“There's the clip clop of horses on the sun-honeyed cobbles of the humming streets, hammering of horse-shoes, gobble quack and cackle, tomtit twitter from t
Jul 12, 2012 Mike rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one, for we must be compassionate to all sentient beings
If I could go back in time about 45 minutes ago and beat myself into a bloody, vegetative state, or at least into an illiterate delirium, so that I wouldn't have read this book, I would. If I could fit pliers into my ears so that I could rip out the sound of this play from my head forever, I would. If I could dig up Dylan Thomas' body and rig it with explosives and blow it up, making me blind from the concussion and so ensuring that I never accidentally read so much as a line of this again, beca ...more
Mar 09, 2010 notgettingenough rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern-lit, drama


Give me the parcel.

WILLY NILLY [postman whose wife reads all the mail to him before he delivers it:]

It's for Mr Pugh, Mrs Pugh.


Never you mind. What's inside it?


A book called Lives of the Great Poisoners.



Persons with manners do not read at table,


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



Some persons were brought up in pigsties.


Pigs don't r
Dec 05, 2015 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dylan Thomas fans, Richard Burton fans, poetry lovers
Recommended to Gary by: Colchester Royal Grammar School, c1976
Under Milk Wood is exactly what it says it is - a play for voices; and no-one's voice does it more justice than that of Richard Burton, a Welshman whose reading of this work is committed, passionate, resonant, rich and second-to-none.
I should also say that this is not a monologue. Burton is the narrator but there is also a full cast of actors reading all the parts, which brings the play to life and gives it depth.
If you liked reading the play, listen to this and feel its power. I might try liste
Kevin Ansbro

I don't know Llarregub about many things, but I do know that Thomas's sloe black, crow black, boat-bobbing, poetic creation was one of the most enjoyable books that I read in school.
If you haven't yet acquainted yourself with his magical mischievousness, then please do!
Oct 10, 2016 Bam rated it it was amazing
Here we enter the lives of the residents of Milk Wood, a Welsh seaside town, first through their dreams, then through their daytime interactions with each other. As in all of our lives, some moments are terribly laugh-out-loud funny, some poignantly sad. Dylan Thomas was quite the wordsmith! Sub-titled "A Play for Voices," I would love to hear voices perform this play someday.
Lauren  Highton
May 12, 2016 Lauren Highton rated it it was amazing
When Under Milk Wood was first performed in New York in 1953, Dylan Thomas’ advice to the cast was to ‘Love the words, love the words’. And reading Under Milk Wood, or better yet hearing it, the truth of this advice reveals itself. Written originally as a radio play, this really is a ‘play for voices’, and you imagine, performed visually, it must lose some of its potency (this is something I would like to find out for myself, one day.*) It stands alone in its language—its rich, punchy, poetic la ...more
Stuart Aken
Sep 20, 2013 Stuart Aken rated it it was amazing
Many years ago, I bought the vinyl LP of the BBC radio production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood. It’s subtitled, ‘A Play for Voices’, and that’s about as accurate a description as I can think of. The radio production is superb, with the brilliant Richard Burton articulating the First Voice in his own inimitable style. A wonderful listening experience.

But what of the text? I picked up a copy from a small independent bookshop whilst shopping in Beverley with my daughter for a student cook book,
Dec 04, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This 1954 BBC recording featuring Richard Burton is a tour de force performance. Dylan Thomas had a sensitive ear for the rhythms of speech that informed his accentual verse and an imaginative approach to descriptive language that contributed both to his immense popularity during his all-too-brief life and after and to the dismissal of his work by many modern academic poets unable to see his value because of their tunnel-vision views of what modern poetry should be. To hear his words brought to ...more
Apr 16, 2011 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A radio 'feature', rather than a play, according to the introduction to my edition, Under Milk Wood is amazing. It's full of lively, unique description, a rapidfire sketch of village life. I can't even pick out a part I like best because all of it is vivacious and interesting. The description, on the first page, for just one example, of the night, 'starless and bible-black'. Dylan Thomas knew what he was doing when it came to language, at all times, and it shows.

The introduction to this edition,
Samir Rawas Sarayji
Apr 30, 2016 Samir Rawas Sarayji rated it it was ok
Shelves: play
This is technically brilliant. Obviously Dylan was at home with the English lexicon and brought all his poetic prowess to the play, full of alliteration, melody and word play. And then...? There is little substance otherwise, the content falls flat and the concept of witnessing these villagers dreams at night and actions during the day is just too gimmicky. I have gained nothing by witnessing their lives and dreams.

A great aesthetic play, but that's where it stops for me.
Jul 01, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A day in a Welsh town. Surreal, yet Thomas creates vivid characters and weaves them together beautifully.
Aug 27, 2012 Zee rated it it was amazing
OK, I don't know what this is, but it's not your average play... Under Milk Wood is something else. It deserves its own category. Shortly before his death I reckon Dylan Thomas came sublimely close to the perfect narrative. Readers of 'Cold Comfort Farm' will definitely recognise an Aunt Ada Doom-ish humour that rides on the coattails of stream of consciousness.

Under Milk Wood is very hard to pin down as it's a mix of so many things, and that's what makes it so astonishingly brilliant. It delve
May 29, 2015 Taka rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2015

Well, I’m officially a Dylan Thomas fan. At first, I thought, “A poet writing a play? Hmmm….” But then the moment I read the opening line, I had to read the entire thing: “It is Spring, moonless night int he 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, fishingboat-bobbing sea.”

Not surprisingly, there isn’t much of a plot here, really. It’s more of a lyrical an
Jan 14, 2014 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Under Milk Wood has a lot of similarities with Ulysses. Large cast, no story but with a lot happening, set in a seaside town, the whole work set in a limited timeframe and is meant to be read aloud. This Play for Voices has more references of sexual innuendo than an album of blues songs. It has some great lines of poetry.

I give it three stars on the page and five stars audio.

I hadn't read Under Milk Wood before I saw the film version in the early 1970s at the cinema. I loved the film, and what a
Apr 25, 2008 Stewart rated it it was amazing
I first saw this play, finished only days before Dylan Thomas died in 1953 at age 39, in its movie form. I enjoyed the movie so much, I found a used paperback of the play. The play takes us on a walking tour over a day of a mythical small Welsh fishing village and one by one the residents speak. The play starts: "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 to the sloeback, slow, b ...more
Erik Graff
Apr 03, 2012 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: poetry
My first exposure to Under Milk Wood was the reading of it. That left little impression. My second was one warm summer evening on the grass under the blossoming magnolia tree in the quadrangle of Union Theological Seminary on Manhattan Island in New York. Someone had brought a tape player and a recording of the piece. The night was perfect, the kind when one can be comfortably naked under the stars. I and a dozen or so fellow students lay quietly, listening together.
Ticklish Owl
This little play for voices has earned permanent status on my e-reader, and The Folio Society edition is in my future. The 1963 BBC radio drama, narrated by Richard Burton, is also wonderful. Every time I read a passage, I hear it in those perfect voices. Someday, I hope to understand all of the clever references and delightful wordplay, but for now, the beautiful writing is enough.
Apr 08, 2008 Amanda rated it liked it
Shelves: plays
My dad was in this play when he was in college or something, so it made me like it more. But it also made me distracted because the whole time, I was imagining a younger version of my moustached father actually getting on stage to do Dylan Thomas...

Edit: Ok, not to DO Dylan Thomas. Jesus Christ, people...
Sarah Churchill
Mar 04, 2014 Sarah Churchill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: welsh-authors
I read along while listening to the audio version by Richard Burton, and it really helped to give the characters more life, as well as emphasising just how funny (and sad) this work is. A Welsh valley town with all of the 'characters' you could need.
John Winterson
Most actual Welsh people have a conflict of emotions about Dylan Thomas. On the one hand, we take pride in his international success and his undoubted ability, at least on his better days, to put together a phrase that rings in the mind. Yet, at the same time, no modern author did more to cement the image of our ancient warrior-race as ‘quaint,’ to use Professor Schama’s notorious expression.

Both sides of Dylan are on display in ‘Under Milk Wood,’ his play for voices, probably his most ambitious
Jan 30, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
UNDER MILK WOOD. (1954?). Dylan Thomas. ****.
This radio drama was commissioned by the BBC, and ultimately run on air in 1954. It seems to be a piece constantly in progress. It is not an easy read. First off, there are about 72 different speaking roles, though I’m sure that several voices could be played by an individual reader. It’s the story of the people living in a town in Wales named Llareggub. You have to read the town’s name backwards to get its meaning. The piece was originally called “L
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add new ebook edition 3 15 Oct 17, 2014 04:01AM  
  • Plays 5: Arcadia / The Real Thing / Night and Day / Indian Ink / Hapgood
  • The Complete Poems and Plays
  • Collected Shorter Poems, 1927-1957
  • Three Tragedies: Blood Wedding, Yerma, Bernarda Alba
  • Three Plays: Juno and the Paycock / The Shadow of a Gunman / The Plow and the Stars
  • 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Other Plays
  • The Complete Plays: The Hostage / The Quare Fellow / Richard's Cork Leg
  • Collected Poems: 1945-1990 R.S.Thomas: Collected Poems : R S Thomas
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  • Three Plays: Desire Under the Elms / Strange Interlude / Mourning Becomes Electra
  • Naked Masks: Five Plays
  • The Maids & Deathwatch
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  • The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
  • Three Plays: Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, and The Matchmaker
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Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet who wrote in English. He is regarded by many as one of the 20th century's most influential poets.

In addition to poetry, Thomas also wrote short stories and scripts for film and radio, with the latter frequently performed by Thomas himself. His public readings, particularly in America, won him great acclaim; his booming, at times ostentatious, voice with a subt
More about Dylan Thomas...

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“The only sea I saw Was the seesaw sea With you riding on it. Lie down, lie easy. Let me shipwreck in your thighs.” 172 likes
“Now behind the eyes and secrets of the dreamers in the streets rocked to sleep by the sea, see the titbits and topsyturvies, bobs and buttontops, bags and bones, ash and rind and dandruff and nailparings, saliva and snowflakes and moulted feathers of dreams, the wrecks and sprats and shells and fishbones, whale-juice and moonshine and small salt fry dished up by the hidden sea.” 76 likes
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