Category Archives: Welsh poets

Why some Welshmen prefer Siam

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-20-47The evil of fridges

R.S. Thomas, Dalrymple notes,

often appeared to prefer birdwatching to human company.

Observation of the beauties of the natural world, particularly the landscape, was for Thomas

a spiritual exercise, a reminder that God has given us all that we need for a fulfilled life. No one could say that he did not attempt to live by his creed.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-20-51-38Dalrymple says Thomas carried his hatred of the modern world

to seemingly absurd lengths.

His biographer records the poet’s son as saying:

I was obliged to attend church and to listen to him drone on about the evils of fridges. It was the Machine, you see. And washing machines. And televisions. This to a congregation that didn’t have any of these things and were longing for them.

Gwydion Thomas lives in Thailand with his wife Kanjana, who describes their house on the island of Phuket as ‘Sarn-y-Plas with elephants’.

Postcards from Laos

Dalrymple wishes to be sent to Luang Prabang to write, under a palm tree, about Henry Vaughan, whose Silex Scintillans came out in 1650

Dalrymple wishes to be sent, in luxurious conditions, to Luang Prabang to write, possibly under a palm tree, about the Welsh poet Henry Vaughan, whose Silex Scintillans came out in 1650

The Dalrympian Shangri-La

In the 13th century, writes Dalrymple,

when the world climate was much warmer than it is now, there were vineyards in the far north of England, a precedent that must give some hope of gainful employment to the chronically unemployed there.

He points out that

working oneself up into a fury of indignation is one of the great consolations of human existence, which is otherwise apt to be so tedious and unsatisfactory.

Hence the appeal of rioting to European spoilt-brat radicals who love the planet and its biosphere. But Dalrymple cannot work himself up into a state of righteous indignation over wastage and extravagance

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 10.52.10because I have in my time done a fair bit of travelling at other people’s expense to no very obvious benefit to anyone except myself. These days I don’t go anywhere only because I’m not asked, or not often. If someone tomorrow were to offer me a free trip in luxurious conditions to Laos (a country I have long wanted to visit, my Shangri-La) to discuss, say, the works of Henry Vaughan, the 17th-century religious poet of mid-Wales, I should of course at once accept, even if by doing so I added my mite to the downfall of the planet and the destruction of the coral reefs in the Pacific.

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