The Prince of Wales, Royal Patron of The Dylan Thomas 100 Festival, has recorded one of his favourite Dylan Thomas poems, 'Fern Hill', to mark National Poetry Day.
Dylan Thomas is one of Wales's most important and revered writers, and the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival, which will begin later this year and run throughout 2014, will mark the centenary of his birth with a worldwide programme of events.
The Prince's recording is available online from 0800hrs BST today (Thursday 3rd October) to mark National Poetry Day, a nationwide celebration of poetry. 'Fern Hill' is one of Thomas's best known poems. It evokes an idyllic, lost, Welsh rural childhood. 'Fern Hill' recently came fourth in a list of poems most frequently requested by listeners to BBC Radio Four's 'Poetry Please' programme, over a 35 year period.
The Prince of Wales said: "For National Poetry Day, I was very glad, if somewhat hesitant! to be able to record a reading of one of my personal favourites, 'Fern Hill', with its poignant and moving evocation of a rural west Wales childhood. I cannot help feeling this is one of the great legacies of Thomas's poetry that it inspires people to appreciate the incomparable landscape of Wales." Â¹
The Prince has recently visited No 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, in Swansea, where Thomas was born and the Boat House in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, where he wrote many of his major works. The Prince of Wales's own Welsh home is in Carmarthenshire, at Llwynywermod near Myddfai. His Royal Highness is keen that as many audiences as possible are able to hear Thomas's work.
William Sieghart, the Founder of National Poetry Day, welcomed The Prince's recording: "There’s no mistaking The Prince of Wales’ love of this moving poem. I hope many will follow his wonderful example on National Poetry Day. This is a day to find a poem you love and share it."
Dylan Thomas's grand-daughter, Hannah Ellis, is also a Patron of the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival. She met The Prince during his visits to Cwmdonkin Drive and the Boat House. Hannah said: "I was so pleased to meet The Prince at my grandfather's birthplace in Swansea in his capacity as Royal Patron, and then again with The Duchess of Cornwall at the boathouse in Laugharne during the summer. It’s fantastic that he is closely involving himself in our centenary celebrations with a reading that my grandfather would have loved, of a poem that meant so much to him and our family."
The Dylan Thomas 100 Festival is being led by the Welsh Government. First Minister, Carwyn Jones said: “The Welsh Government is proud to be leading on the Dylan Thomas 100 celebrations for 2014. The Festival will resurrect a passion for literature and inspire people of all ages to connect more actively with our rich cultural heritage. It is an opportunity to showcase Wales and to raise further the iconic status of this great literary figure. As the momentum behind this great festival gathers pace, I hope that many visitors will be encouraged to visit Wales and discover the inspiration that lies behind the legacy.”
Notes for Editors
The Prince's recording will be available at www.princeofwales.gov.uk from 0800hrs on Thursday 3rd October 2013.
Â¹The Prince's comments were made in a foreword for the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival programme.
For more information about the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival visit www.dylanthomas100.org
National Poetry Day is a nationwide celebration of poetry which falls every year on the first Thursday of October (October 3 this year, October 2 in 2014). Since National Poetry Day was founded in 1994, it has engaged millions of people across the country with live events, happenings, classroom activities, conversations, broadcasts, tweets and spontaneous uncontrollable outbursts of poetry. Visit www.nationalpoetryday.co.uk or www.facebook.com/PoetryDayUK
Literature Wales, the National Company for the development of literature in Wales, is delivering two major projects as part of the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival. The first, Dylanwad / Developing Dylan, comprises the Festival’s education strand and is supported by the Department for Education and Skills. It includes holding over 2000 Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 Dylan Thomas-themed creative writing workshops in Wales, an international writing competition for ages 7-25, and a live spoken word and music show which will tour Wales’ universities and beyond. The second, A Dylan Odyssey, offers a programme of 23 one-off extraordinary tours in Wales, England and the USA, exploring Dylan Thomas’ words and worlds through the eyes of Wales’ contemporary artists including comedian Griff Rhys Jones, author and scriptwriter Andrew Davies and the National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke.