Beyond the Border …

… is the name of a magical storytelling festival held at St Donat’s Castle in south Wales every other year. It takes its name from Dylan Thomas’s Poem in October. Here are the second, fourth, fifth and seventh verses:

My birthday began with the water –
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border
and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.







It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sunlight
And the legends of the green chapels







And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around.
And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven and I stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.

Dylan Thomas, Poem in October from The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, (Orion). Used by permission of David Higham Associates, London, as agents for the Trustees of the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. And also from THE POEMS OF DYLAN THOMAS, copyright © 1945 by The Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas, first published in POETRY. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp., New York.

‘O may my heart’s truth still be sung … .’ A writer’s dearest wish and greatest task. A poem I would love to have written. A poem that was written out for me, by hand, by David Benedictus on my own thirtieth birthday. A poem I failed utterly to understand, then. I even asked him if he’d written it himself; he must have despaired (he never replied). But it’s a poem I understand so much better now, a full thirty (and one) years on. A prophetic poem full of the promise and the hope of all writers, and a poem that gave a storytelling festival its name, a storytelling festival that reminded me how necessary it is for writers not only to write, but to take time away from writing and sit by the well of inspiration of others’ words, and wait. And listen with our hearts. For that way lies the path to the parables in the sunlight, the legends in the green chapels, the tall tales beyond the border. The wellspring.

Beyond the Border is a biennial storytelling festival. I urge you to go, in 2014.

Beyond the Border storytelling festival brochure cover 2012.

About Angela

I write fiction about the difficulty we have when we try to say what's in our hearts.
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