The lips of time leech to the fountain head


The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas died in New York on Nov. 9, 1953, at age 39. Already a celebrity, Thomas was turned into a legend. Did he die as a result of 18 double whiskies drunk neat in the White Horse Tavern? Or was the cause half a grain of morphine (enough to lay out a horse) administered by an incompetent physician? Did another doctor really say that the poet was dying of “a serious insult to the brain”? Reports conflict, myth balloons. Thomas’ put-upon physique took several days to finally give up its ghost, time enough for hundreds to flock to the doors of his hospital ward, to pay their respects, perhaps, or to glimpse the roaring boy in his ruin, and for his glamorous and equally tempestuous wife, Caitlin ( Uma Thurman and Lindsay Lohan are among the actress who have down the years been slated to play her, in bio-pics that — this being the story of a great love, and Dylan Thomas — always seem to fall apart at the last minute), to fly in from England, freak out and almost get herself committed to Bellevue. Thus was enacted a tragic death, which had been preceded by a life of fame, love, booze, debts.

more from Richard Rayner at the LAT here.