All My Life and Longer

All My Life and Longer

This week’s poem is taken from “Under Milk Wood” by Dylan Thomas and is a tribute to Llareggub, the Reverend Eli Jenkins’ home.

But let me choose and oh! I should
Love all my life and longer

Dylan Thomas (1914—1953)

Poem 188. The Reverend Eli Jenkins

Dear Gwalia! I know there are
Towns lovelier than ours,
And fairer hills and loftier far,
And groves more full of flowers,
And boskier woods more blithe with spring
And bright with birds’ adorning,
And sweeter bards than I to sing
Their praise this beauteous morning.
By Cader Idris, tempest-torn,
Or Moel y Wyddfa’s glory,
Carnedd Llewelyn beauty born,
Plinlimmon old in story,
By mountains where King Arthur dreams,
By Penmaen Mawr defiant,
Llareggub Hill a molehill seems,
A pygmy to a giant.
By Sawdde, Senny, Dovey, Dee,
Edw, Eden, Aled, all,
Taff and Towy broad and free,
Llyfnant with its waterfall,
Claerwen, Cleddau, Dulais, Daw,
Ely, Gwili, Ogwr, Nedd,
Small is our River Dewi, Lord,
A baby on a rushy bed.
By Carreg Cennen, King of time,
Our Heron Head is only
A bit of stone with seaweed spread
Where gulls come to be lonely.
A tiny dingle is Milk Wood
By golden Grove ‘neath Grongar,
But let me choose and oh! I should
Love all my life and longer
To stroll among our trees and stray
In Goosegog Lane, on Donkey Down,
And hear the Dewi sing all day,
And never, never leave the town

This poem is a part of the larger play of voices “Under Milk Wood” which was written by Thomas in 1954 and it is one of the passages of poetry read by Richard Burton on the Argo tape I listened to years ago. Burton’s voice was an ideal match for this recital of Welsh place names, mountains and rivers and I urge you to listen to it.

It is clear from these stanzas that the good Reverend loves his town, tiny and humble though it may be. The Welsh names are:

Gwalia — the Reverend’s correspondent.

Cader Idris — a mountain peak.

Moel y Wyddfa — Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales.

Carnedd Llewelyn — a mountain peak near Bangor in the Snowdonia National Park.

Plinlimmon — a mountain peak near Aberystwyth in West Wales.

Penmaen Mawr — a mountain peak near the town of Penmaenmawr, also in Snowdonia.

Llarreggub— the name of the fictional town (derived by reversing the phrase “bugger all”).

Sawdde, Senny, Dovey, Dee, Edw, Eden, Aled, Taff, Towy, Llyfnant, Claerwen, Cleddau, Dulais, Daw, Ely, Gwili, Ogwr, Need — all real rivers in Wales.

Dewi — the fictional stream running through Milk Wood and Llarregub.

Carreg Cennen — a real Welsh peak.

I love this poem because of its wonderful lilting sound of the Welsh place names and for the deep love Eli Jenkins has for Llareggub, which just shines from everything he says about the place.


  • Read about the poem on Wikipedia.
  • Listen to Richard Burton’s performance of the poem on YouTube.