Saturday, 23 February 2013

Many readers and just one poem

As a Welshman I suppose it's inevitable that I rate the works of Dylan Thomas very highly, especially his poem 'Do not go gently into that good night'.  I've just listened to the poet himself reading it and I found his rendition rather theatrical, almost histrionic.  Disappointingly devoid of the depth of passion I had anticipated would be in his delivery.  He's a writer and not a reader.  Am I alone in thinking this?

A good poem deserves a good reading and, I'm sorry Dylan bach, you just don't do it for me.  Out of curiosity I had a root around to see what other versions I could find and it's interesting to compare the various styles.

Let's start with another iconic Welshman, Richard Burton.  I'm afraid he falls into the 'very actorly' camp as well.  Too much proclaiming: too little passion.  Take it away, Dicky.

Mmm, let's see if that boyo from Port Talbot, Anthony Hopkins, can do any better.  A brave attempt, Tony, but a little lifeless for my taste.  Ever the thespian, eh?  Better stick to the chianti and fava beans.

Maybe changing continents will bring a better result?  Step forward, Tom O'Bedlam (a prolific reader of poetry via his Youtube nom de plume SpokenVerse).  A fantastic voice and, in my opinion, a very creditable rendering of the essence of the villanelle.  Full of passion and emotion, yet still spoken in the hushed tone that comes almost instinctively while in the presence of a dying light.  Good but not the best I came across.

Call me nationalistic (you're nationalistic, Parsons!) but I can't help it: only a Welsh voice can do justice to Dylan Thomas. And for me, that voice belongs to the late Philip Madoc.  An amazing interpretation and just the right blend of vocal light and dark.  I might just have chosen a reading for my funeral service!

No comments: