Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All through the night

I recently shared a song called "All Through the Night" that I sing to my baby as she drifts off to sleep. I'm not sure the origins of this song, although I think it may be Welsh. As a child, I heard it every Christmas while my family and I watched "A Child's Christmas in Wales" - the television adaptation of Dylan Thomas's beautiful crafted tale about....yep, you guessed it, a child's Christmas in Wales.

Although I'm not going to copy and paste the full text into my post, I would just like to share a few bits and pieces that I think are particularly poignant. We all enjoy remembering Christmases past, and telling fine tales to children who listen and think "but that happens here during Christmas too!" It's like every story that begins with "when I was a child..." and ends with "I walked 12 miles in the frozen desert, to and from school, every day."

And so Mr. Thomas tells his tale to a young boy who is listening,

"Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."

"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

Oh, the snow that comes "shawling out of the ground" and swims and drifts out of the arms and hands and bodies of the tree...what a picture he paints!

The part of the story that my family always found so amusing was when the man and the boy are discussing the "useful" presents we receive at Christmas such as

"engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all."

The little boy responds by saying "I don't like socks" in such a charming Welsh accent, that we still quote that line every time someone in our family receives socks in their stocking!

If you have not had a chance to read the poem, I highly suggest you give it a Google! You can find copies of it on many different websites. If you're really interested, and want to see the PBS version, it is available on Amazon

Happy Christmas from The Chickadee Tweet!

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