So begins Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” a gentle prose poem chronicling a kid’s-eye view of Christmas in a small Welsh town.
Of course, Thomas was not born in New York City, nor did he ever really reside here. But Manhattan is where he died, at St. Vincent’s hospital on West 12th Street in 1953. It happened days after he reportedly announced to his agent’s assistant that he’d had 18 whiskeys—”I think that’s a record”—and wasn’t feeling so hot. He came to St. Vincent’s from his temporary quarters at the Chelsea Hotel, and he never left.
Depending on which biography you read, the official cause of death is alcohol poisoning, pneumonia, or diabetes. It’s probably safe to assume that booze played a pretty big role, as he was known to knock them back at the White Horse Tavern on West 11th and Hudson.
Thomas at the White Horse, 1952
If you’ve never read “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” now is as good a time as any: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-child-s-christmas-in-wales
Or listen to an audio file; Thomas’ booming voice is like no other. It’s available in two parts:
For additional information on Thomas or the poem, read this terrific piece by Mona Molarsky at Examiner.com New York: http://www.examiner.com/x-907-NY-City-Life-Examiner~y2008m12d22-A-Childs-Christmas-in-Wales