I’ve just sent two big installations out into the world. They’ll be on the wall in a new boutique hotel in Dover Street in London that’s currently being refurbished. I’ll have to sneak in once it’s opened and take some more photos – it’s strange how different things look outside the studio.
This one is Fern Hill: the pots are inscribed from the first verse of Dylan Thomas’ poem:
“Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of their eyes,
And honoured among the wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.”
You can hear Dylan Thomas reading Fern Hill on youtube. It’s a reminder of how unusual regional accents were then – he sounds disconcertingly posh. You might prefer Richard Burton. He sounds more natural, somehow, to me anyway. Any opinions gratefully received!
The second box has a great nursery-rhyme on it: Dinogad’s speckled petticoat, written around 800AD, near Edinburgh, in Welsh. It’s survived because someone wrote it on a spare bit of space in the margins of the poem The Gododdin, where 300 (yes – this seems a common number for last-hope battles….) warriors from the Old North fight the Angles at Catterick.
“Dinogad’s speckled petticoat
was made of skins of speckled stoat:
whip whip whipalong
eight times we’ll sing the song
When your father hunted the land
spear on shoulder club in hand
thus his speedy dogs he’d teach
Giff Gaff catch her catch her fetch!
In his coracle he’d slay
fish as a lion does its prey.
When your father went to the moor
he’d bring back heads of stag fawn boar
the speckled grouse’s head from the mountain
fishes’ heads from the falls of Oak Fountain.
Wherever your father struck with his spear
wild pig wild cat fox from his lair
unless it had wings it could never get clear.”
Nursery rhymes are interesting – they seem to reach across time in a way ‘proper’ poetry doesn’t. I suppose they have to use simple words, simple ideas to work for tots, yet the ones that survive have something really resonant of their own time as well.