Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Stinging yellow


Even after weeks of rain in Kent, when the clouds clear the colours of an English May are eye-catching distractions everywhere you look. It will soon be as hard to write here as it is in Provence.

“I think England is the very place for a fluent and fiery writer. The highest hymns of the sun are written in the dark. I like the grey country. A bucket of Greek sun would drown in one colour the crowds of colours I like trying to mix for myself out a grey flat insular mud. If I went to the sun I’d just sit in the sun; that would be very pleasant but I’m not doing it, and the only necessary things I do are the things I am doing. Unless by accidents, and my life is planned by them, I shall be nearer Bournemouth than Corfu this summer.”

So wrote Dylan Thomas to his literary acquaintance Lawrence Durrell in December 1938. I’m a great admirer of both men’s work but have to confess that I take heart from the Welshman on this: I much prefer to write in the dark drear of British grey than the vibrant light of the south.

Thomas on his Carmarthenshire waterfront; Durrell in the searing blues and golds of the Greek island of Corfu: both connected through a mutual admiration of what the other achieved, one in the dark, one in sunlight. It’s fascinating to see, as the letter goes on, how well Thomas understands the effort and the personal turmoil of Durrell as he hammers out his words, striving so hard to be taken seriously, and how generous his encouragement:

"I liked your Stygian prose very very much, it’s the best I’ve read for years. Don’t let the Greek sun blur your pages as you said it did. You use words like stones, throwing, rockerying, mossing, churning, sharpening, bloodsucking, melting, and a hard firewater flows and rolls through them all the time…"

8 comments:

Angela Bell said...

Very intersting,the drear gives me S.A.D and then any creativity goes down the tubes. The light is like a happy pill for me. I like both those writers too.I love Durrell,s travel writing as well!

Elizabeth Young said...

'The highest hymns of the sun are written in the dark.' Wow, this is so true!!!

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Me, too. I love a good dreary day for writing. Of course, the gray of Chicago can never compare to that of England because you have the beautiful green countryside, but, alas, I make do. :)

Deb said...

Maybe I bend toward the rainy day as well. When it's sunny and beautiful, the thought is always playing at the back of my mind that I should be out in it. On the flip side, I have a lovely sunroom with a ratty old sofa and it's wonderful to open all the windows and laze in the breeze with my laptop.

Cottage Garden said...

These Dylan Thomas quotes are wonderful. Such interesting thoughts on the effect of weather, mood and creativity.

The rain has brought nature into sharp focus but I long for some warm sunshine now!

Jeanne
x

Lisa Erin said...

I prefer the grey to the light, too. Now that I'm about to embark on a book writing project of my own, I have my usual thunderstorm CD ready to go. I creates the perfect atmosphere for productivity, which will come in handy living in the bright sunlit American south. :)

MuMuGB said...

I don't think that I would be able to write in Corfu. Too much light. When it is dark and grey in London, you simply have to write. No choice.

Vanessa said...

Although the colours and light of southern France are full of inspiration, it is difficult to write in them. I always feel I should be outside. I make up for it over the winter, when it can be very grey here.

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