Under Milk Wood
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Under Milk Wood

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  3,117 ratings  ·  192 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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Petra SockieX
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):

FIRST VOICE

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

MR. PUGH

Here's your arseni...more
Shovelmonkey1
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...more
Trevor
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...more
Kim

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
...more
Lauren
When Under Milk Wood was first performed in New York in 1953, Dylan Thomas’ one bit of 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 his 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,...more
notgettingenough
Hate:

MRS PUGH

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.

MRS PUGH

Never you mind. What's inside it?

WILLY NILLY

A book called Lives of the Great Poisoners.

[later:]

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 r...more
Nikki
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,...more
Mike
Jul 12, 2012 Mike rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Stuart Aken
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,...more
Victoria
Dylan Thomas writes so amazingly beautifully. The story just flows and it is like music. The story is about nothing and yet about everything - just the ordinary nuances of life and community. The differences between the people in the town and their lives. I strongly recommend you read this - or watch a production of it.

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
...more
Greg
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...more
Stewart
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 5 of 5 stars
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.
Amanda
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...
^
Sep 04, 2014 ^ rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All who love the sound of the English language at its best
Recommended to ^ by: My parents

Though the CD lacks the ‘magic’ of the black vinyl LP which my parents passed onto me some years ago (there’s something almost visceral about watching a needle picking up and delivering sound as it traverses a black surface ….), this CD is the perfect practical replacement. I only wish that Polygram had been able (or willing?) to use the original Decca LP artwork. The cover image of this 1hr 30min double CD is utterly crass in portraying 4/5th of Richard Burton, and 1/5th of some nameless Welsh(...more
Zee
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...more
Warwick
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...more
Ma
I loved this. The text is so full of vitality and exuberance, humour and poignancy; the characters, however briefly described, are flesh and blood on the page; the language leaps and flows. Under Milk Wood is the story of a day in the life of a small Welsh town, a day that is no doubt repeated endlessly, the eccentric inhabitants trapped by their natures, their families, their dreams. I was hooked from the first lines: 'It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless
and bible-black, the...more
Damian Haas
May 16, 2008 Damian Haas rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: tired people, ambien addicts
Recommended to Damian by: curiosity
Not to hate on Dylan Thomas too much, but this "poem-play" sucks ass. I like most of his poetry and his story "Adventures in the Skin Trade." I've also been told that "A Child's Christmas in Wales" is very good, but don't let that convince you everything by him is good. There are flashes of his poetic language, but mostly it's just a plotless ramble of characters who aren't interesting going through a not interesting day in a not interesting town. Perhaps if I were a Welshman, nostalgia would fi...more
Phillip
Like most of Dylan Thomas' writing, this is an impressionistic play. There isn't really a plot in the conventional sense of conflict--rising action, climax, resolution-- but a series of characters, which as a whole make up this community. I can't even really picture a good way to stage this play, which is why I supposed it worked as a radio play. However, I am looking forward to a version from Netflix, to see how they staged this.
Sarah Churchill
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.
Amelia Davies
Outstanding to read, even better to hear and simply magical to perform.
Paul Harris
This was a totally immersive pleasure. I savoured every word - and they're in abundance as they come at you almost without pause for thought or breath in this extended prose poem - 'a play for voices'. The tempo and rhythm matches that of a day's span: gentle and deliberate at times, busily frenzied at others. I don't know if this is Thomas' masterpiece as I'm only at the beginning of reading his work, but it must surely have been hard to better. It is a small piece of perfection - short in leng...more
Lawrence
As I've said elsewhere, I love Thomas's words, his world. I've produced, directed and been part of three productions of this little play for voices. Once, in my early university days. The second time, after having hitchhiked from Cambridge to Laugharne one late winter week in the early 60s, after having gotten drunk in Dylan's pub, tried to befriend Dylan's pals and people, gone peeking through the dusty, spider-dwelt window of his writing shack on the top of the cliff above the sea, and, having...more
Kathryn  Bullen
Fabulous read - really enjoyed it, especially after seeing/hearing the recent BBC production. Beautiful choice of words and authentic characters who come alive through the narrative and their own speech. This is poetry, prose and drama combined and I can see why it was instantly loved.

“It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobbled streets silent and the hunched courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fi...more
Zachary
Dylan Thomas, famous poet, turns his talent to a radio play detailing a day in the life of a small town cut off from the outside world by nature. The narrator creates the characters as the day goes, giving them their own speech lilts and falls as he watches over them with a fine sense of altruism. The narrator here is God, spurring his creations into life and letting them free. This is a different God, a God with no given laws. They live peaceful lives as an omnipresent force watches over them,...more
Kit
Was confusing at first, but once you know what's going on then you'll start to love it. The play was meant to be a radio event, which means that it was supposed to be read out loud, and is probably the only way to read the book, and the language is so musical, even when the content at times is nonsensical. But this is the beauty of Under Milk Wood; a play about nothing, but at the same time everything. Nonetheless, it is most of all an argument for human innocence, an idyll to be achieved and ar...more
S.D.
In fiction, well-wrought dialog ought to be preferred to stuff that “sounds real.” How it sounds to the ear (or mind) is key, and when it sounds good, readers will suspend their disbelief: “I wish I could have put it that way!” trumps “Why would he put it that way?” Thomas’ “play for voices” radiates proof: lyrical, alluring, witty dialog and nothing more… than proof that dialog alone can propel a narrative from start to finish. And what a narrative! Nearly a third takes place in pre-dawn and po...more
Jen
Jun 02, 2011 Jen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Somewhere I heard this referred to as a verse play and thus bought a copy because Dylan Thomas is a favorite poet of mine. However, it only occasionally breaks out into verse and that is largely folksy, coming from the mouths of the residents of a small Welsh town. It's not the sonic fireworks I love in Thomas. So the poetry was entirely disappointing to me.

Dylan's prose, though, is rich and fun and the play overall is still enjoyable. The cast of characters are a bit of a jumble until about mi...more
Chelsea
You can easily tell that Dylan Thomas is a poet through this play of his. That being said, I'm not sure how I feel about it. There was definitely a lot of detail and characterization, but no real plot. The play is about the waking-up and going-to-sleep of a Welsh town called Milk Wood, and that's about it. I guess when I read a play, I expect some action- I don't expect to just read some poetry. Granted, Dylan Thomas is a great poet; it's just not exactly what I look for in a play. There was als...more
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Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet. 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 subtle Welsh lilt, became...more
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Collected Poems A Child's Christmas in Wales Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog Adventures in the Skin Trade Quite Early One Morning

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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.” 119 likes
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