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Dylan Thomas' Laugharne

Settembre 2008
Galles meridionale: poche case strette intorno alle rovine di un castello, una baia silenziosa e una campagna ancora incontaminata. Qui si ritirò a scrivere il poeta Dylan Thomas.

di John Rigg

File audio:

K. Knightley and M. Rhys
K. Knightley and M. Rhys

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (standard British accent):

Laugharne is a small town built on the cliffs of the River Tâf Estuary in South Wales. The poet Dylan Thomas, who lived there many years, described it as a timeless, beautiful, mysterious place populated by herons, gulls, geese and ghosts. The alcoholic poet, who once scandalised the local people, today attracts thousands of tourists to the town. The biographical film of Thomas’ life in 1940s Wales, The Edge of Love, starring Keira Knightly and Sienna Miller, will make the place even more popular.


The town stands between the low green hills of Carmarthenshire and the sea. Laugharne Castle once guarded the old coastal road from invaders: today it’s a ruin, but it’s still an impressive sight. Laugharne’s Georgian houses and small cottages remain much as Thomas knew them; in fact the town is dominated by his memory. Visitors can find his grave in the church grounds, where he lies beside his beloved wife Caitlin, who moved to Sicily after he died. There’s his favourite pub, Browns Hotel and, not far off, the Boathouse, where he lived until his death in 1953. Today the Boathouse is a museum dedicated to the poet. Deep in the marshes, not far from the village, there’s Hurst House Farm, a 16th century building carefully restored and converted into a unique luxury hotel.


The people of Laugharne are famous for their eccentricity. The town is almost unique because it maintains an ancient charter which was granted by Sir Guy de Brian in the early 14th century.
The charter created the Laugharne Corporation, which owns most of the land and buildings around the town. The Corporation has some curious customs: every three years it organises the Common Walk: a 40-km tour of significant landmarks. At each landmark a victim must name the place; if he can’t answer, he is lifted upside down and ceremonially beaten three times on the bottom. This certainly explains the town’s eccentric reputation. 



John Maybury’s The Edge of Love is a film of passion and betrayal: the story of two women who become friends even though they love the same man, the poet Dylan Thomas.  
“Dylan Thomas was a man who could charm any woman into his bed.” That’s how screenwriter Sharman Macdonald describes him. “He was an alcoholic,” she says “but he was also great, great, great fun.” Thomas’ daughter suggests the events in the film are fictional, but says they catch the essence of the poet and his wife.
Sienna Miller plays Thomas’ wife Caitlin, a wild bohemian dancer, while Keira Knightley plays the other woman, singer Vera Phillips. The film moves from 1940s London and the blitz, to the calm valleys of Wales. The filming took place in various locations in Wales, including Laugharne.

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cliffs - scogliere.

timeless - senza tempo.

herons, gulls, geese and ghosts - aironi, gabbiani, oche e fantasmi.

guarded - difendeva.

sight - veduta.

grave - tomba.

grounds - terreno.

marshes - paludi.

charter - statuto.

granted - concesso.

customs - usanze, tradizioni.

landmarks - luoghi d’interesse.

Name the place - nominare il luogo.

he is lifted upside down - viene sollevato e messo a testa in giù.

bottom - sedere.

betrayal - tradimento.

screenwriter - sceneggiatrice.

fictional - di fantasia.