THEATRE / Between the Lines: Reasons to be cheerful: Actor Desmond Barrit finds grounds for optimism in the words of Dylan Thomas's Under Milkwood

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The Independent Culture
Dear Gwalia, I know there are

Towns lovelier than ours

And fairer hills and loftier far

And groves more full of flowers . . .

But let me choose and O] I should

Love all my life and longer

To stroll among our trees and stray

In Goosegog Lane, on Donkey Down

And here the Dewi sing all day

And never, never leave the town.

From Under Milkwood by Dylan Thomas

This extract is the first four lines and the last six of a speech by the Reverend Eli Jenkins. Each morning he opens his front door, looks up at the hills and delivers this wonderful poem. I would recommend everybody read this, and if you are fortunate enough to be Welsh and you haven't read it then I'm very disappointed in you. It's a poem about contentment and optimism, something we all need at this time. For me it conjures up hills covered in a million shades of green, working coal pits churning relentlessly, and male voice choirs filling every village hall with song. What this poem says to me is that it isn't important to be the greatest actor in the world or the best audio typist or the gardener with the greenest fingers. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, as long as we are optimistic then we are happy.

Desmond Barrit is in 'The Comedy of Errors' at the RSC, Barbican, London EC2 (071-638 8891)

(Photograph omitted)