Under Milk Wood

by

Dylan Thomas

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Polly Garter is a single mother who has many children and dreams of babies. She has affairs with many of Llareggub’s married men and is the subject of much gossip: when the chattering women who are gathered around the town pump become instantly silent, for example, Captain Cat knows Polly must be approaching. Polly’s current lover is Mr. Waldo, and the two of them meet up for a tryst in Milk Wood at the end of the play. Though Polly has many lovers, she’s always thinking about Little Willy Weazel, the only man she ever loved, who died many years ago, and she sings mournful songs about him as she completes her daily chores. Most of the town is judgmental of Polly’s sexuality, but their gossip and disapproval don’t curb Polly’s desire. The play doesn’t cast Polly (or any of its sexually promiscuous characters) in a negative light; in fact, when the Reverend Eli Jenkins overhears Polly’s singing on his way to tend to the sick, he praises God for music.

Polly Garter Quotes in Under Milk Wood

The Under Milk Wood quotes below are all either spoken by Polly Garter or refer to Polly Garter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
).
Under Milk Wood Quotes

Oh, isn’t life a terrible thing, thank God?

Related Characters: Polly Garter (speaker), First Voice, Second Voice, Reverend Eli Jenkins
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

Can’t hear what the women are gabbing round the pump. Same as ever. Who’s having a baby, who blacked whose eye, seen Polly Garter giving her belly an airing, there should be a law, seen Mrs. Beynon's new mauve jumper, it’s her old grey jumper dyed, who’s dead, who’s dying, there’s a lovely day, oh the cost of soapflakes!

Related Characters: Captain Cat (speaker), Polly Garter, Mrs. Beynon, First Voice
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

CAPTAIN CAT. That’s Polly Garter. (Softly) Hullo, Polly my love, can you hear the dumb goose–hiss of the wives as they huddle and peck or flounce at a waddle away? Who cuddled you when? Which of their gandering hubbies moaned in Milk Wood for your naughty mothering arms and body like a wardrobe, love? Scrub the floors of the Welfare Hall for the Mothers’ Union Social Dance, you’re one mother won't wriggle her roly poly bum or pat her fat little buttery feet in that wedding–ringed holy to–night though the waltzing breadwinners snatched from the cosy smoke of the Sailors Arms will grizzle and mope.

Related Characters: Captain Cat (speaker), Polly Garter, First Voice, Second Voice
Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

Praise the Lord! We are a musical nation.

Related Characters: Reverend Eli Jenkins (speaker), Polly Garter, Cherry Owen
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

MRS ORGAN MORGAN. And when you think of all those babies she’s got, then all I can say is she’d better give up bird nesting that’s all I can say, it isn’t the right kind of hobby at all for a woman that can’t say No even to midgets. Remember Bob Spit? He wasn’t any bigger than a baby and he gave her two. But they’re two nice boys, I will say that, Fred Spit and Arthur. Sometimes I like Fred best and sometimes I like Arthur. Who do you like best, Organ?

ORGAN MORGAN. Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

MRS ORGAN MORGAN. Organ Morgan, you haven’t been listening to a word I said. It’s organ organ all the time with you…

FIRST VOICE. And she bursts into tears, and, in the middle of her salty howling, nimbly spears a small flatfish and pelicans it whole.

ORGAN MORGAN. And then Palestrina,

SECOND VOICE. says Organ Morgan.

Related Characters: First Voice (speaker), Second Voice (speaker), Mrs. Organ Morgan (speaker), Organ Morgan (speaker), Polly Garter, Mr. Waldo
Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 71-72
Explanation and Analysis:

FIRST VOICE. […] And Mr. Waldo drunk in the dusky wood hugs his lovely Polly Garter under the eyes and rattling tongues of the neighbours and the birds, and he does not care. He smacks his live red lips. But it is not his name that Polly Garter whispers as she lies under the oak and loves him back. Six feet deep that name sings in the cold earth.

POLLY GARTER. (Sings)
But I always think as we tumble into bed
Of little Willy Wee who is dead, dead, dead.

Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Under Milk Wood LitChart as a printable PDF.
Under Milk Wood PDF

Polly Garter Character Timeline in Under Milk Wood

The timeline below shows where the character Polly Garter appears in Under Milk Wood. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Under Milk Wood
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Meanwhile, in Donkey Street, Dai Bread dreams of harems, Polly Garter dreams of babies, Nogood Boyo dreams of nothing, and Lord Cut-Glass dreams of a... (full context)
Intimacy Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...angrily trudge out of Handcuff House and predicts that he’s on his way to arrest Polly Garter “for having babies.” Mary Ann Sailors opens her bedroom window and announces to the... (full context)
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
Polly Garter stands under the clothesline and feeds her baby. She complains about nothing growing in... (full context)
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...subjects, such as who’s expecting a baby, who’s been beaten, and the cost of soap. Polly Garter is visibly pregnant, and they scoff that “there should be a law” against such... (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
When the gossiping women around the pump fall silent, Captain Cat knows that Polly Garter is near, and he wonders which of the women’s husbands had sex with Polly... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
Reverend Eli Jenkins walks outside the chapel and listens to Polly Garter sing as she scrubs the floors of the Welfare Hall for the Mothers’ Union... (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
Reverend Eli Jenkins praises God for Polly’s heartfelt song and continues on his way to care for the sick with his poems.... (full context)
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...Great Saints. Mrs. Pugh smirks and tells Mr. Pugh she saw him talking with “Saint Polly Garter,” who Mrs. Organ Morgan claims was “martyred” by Mr. Waldo last night. (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
Mrs. Organ Morgan, who caught the lovers together, discusses her discovery with Organ Morgan. Apparently, Polly and Mr. Waldo claimed to be “looking for nests.” Mrs. Organ Morgan scowls at Polly’s... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Mr. Waldo and Polly Garter canoodle in the woods. Mr. Waldo “smacks his live red lips” greedily, but Polly... (full context)