Under Milk Wood

by

Dylan Thomas

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Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill Symbol Analysis

Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill  Symbol Icon

Milk Wood and Llareggub Hill, symbolize the freedom of nature. Many of Llareggub’s lovers flock to Milk Wood to engage in their trysts—particularly ones that are less acceptable within their society. While the play doesn’t overtly condemn physical intimacy, a number of townspeople criticize sexual promiscuity. For example, the wives gossip incessantly about Polly Garter, the young, single mother who engages in numerous affairs with married men in town, and the drinkers who gather in Sailors Arms the night of the Mothers’ Union Dance grumble about the supposedly sinful nature of dancing. Still, a desire for intimacy and human connection persuades many characters to disregard such criticisms, and they go to Milk Wood—a sanctuary that lies just beyond the metaphorical border that separates the judgmental world of the town from the free, nonjudgmental atmosphere of nature—to act on their impulses.

Milk Wood and Llareggub Hill also embody Llareggub’s timeless nature. The play makes frequent allusions to the old age of the geographic features that border Llareggub. First Voice describes Llareggub Hill as “old as the hills.” In one of his morning sermons, Reverend Eli Jenkins describes the hill as “eternal.” Near the end of the play, as Jenkins sits in his poem-room and writes about Llareggub, he proclaims Llareggub Hill to be a “mystic tumulus,” or ancient burial ground, and “the memorial of peoples that dwelt in the region of Llareggub before the Celts left the Land of Summer and where the old wizards made themselves a wife out of flowers.” His poetic depiction of Llareggub Hill as ancient and “eternal” situates the hill within the larger context of history. It suggests that because Llareggub Hill has been around since before “the Celts,” it will continue to exist, “eternal[ly],” for years to come, resilient enough to weather the passage of time. Jenkins emphasizes humanity’s accompanying resilience when he depicts the hill as a “mystic tumulus,” a “memorial of peoples” who have long since passed. The ancient peoples who made a home here centuries before Llareggub existed are rendered immortal in the memorials they left behind, and these memorials, in Jenkins’ mind, symbolize humanity’s ability to weather the scourge of time as adeptly as nature itself. Jenkins’ observation about Llareggub Hill’s “eternal” quality extends to the town of Llareggub, which is itself characterized by its longevity and resilience: by its ability to resist change and hang onto “that picturesque sense of the past” in a perpetually changing world. Llareggub Hill and Milk Wood, therefore, evoke Llareggub’s resilience, and the inherent goodness of its people that allows that resilience to thrive. Llareggub Hill symbolizes the townspeople’s participation in the shared history of humanity, and the inherent goodness that is reflected in the “memorial[s]” they left behind on Llareggub Hill.

Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill Quotes in Under Milk Wood

The Under Milk Wood quotes below all refer to the symbol of Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill . 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

SECOND VOICE. Mrs. Rose Cottage’s eldest, Mae, peals off her pink–and–white skin in a furnace in a tower in a cave in a waterfall in a wood and waits there raw as an onion for Mister Right to leap up the burning tall hollow splashes of leaves like a brilliantined trout.

MAE ROSE COTTAGE. (Very close and softly, drawing out the words)
Call me Dolores
Like they do in the stories.

Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Stand on this hill. This is Llareggub Hill, old as the hills, high, cool, and green, and from this small circle of stones, made not by druids but by Mrs. Beynon’s Billy, you can see all the town below you sleeping in the first of the dawn.

Related Characters: First Voice (speaker), Mrs. Beynon, Second Voice
Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 25
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:

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:

We are not wholly bad or good
Who live our lives under Milk Wood,
And Thou, I know, wilt be the first
To see our best side, not our worst.

Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

Llareggub Hill, that mystic tumulus, the memorial of peoples that dwelt in the region of Llareggub before the Celts left the Land of Summer and where the old wizards made themselves a wife out of flowers.

Related Characters: Reverend Eli Jenkins (speaker)
Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 91
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:

The thin night darkens. A breeze from the creased water sighs the streets close under Milk waking Wood. The Wood, whose every tree–foot’s cloven in the black glad sight of the hunters of lovers, that is a God–built garden to Mary Ann Sailors who knows there is Heaven on earth and the chosen people of His kind fire in Llareggub’s land, that is the fairday farmhands’ wantoning ignorant chapel of bridesbeds, and, to the Reverend Eli Jenkins, a greenleaved sermon on the innocence of men, the suddenly wind–shaken wood springs awake for the second dark time this one Spring day.

Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 94-5
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Under Milk Wood LitChart as a printable PDF.
Under Milk Wood PDF

Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill Symbol Timeline in Under Milk Wood

The timeline below shows where the symbol Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill appears in Under Milk Wood. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Under Milk Wood
Intimacy Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...fast asleep. Second Voice describes Black’s dreams of brashly breaking up lovers’ rendezvous in the woods. (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
...slowly rising in the sky as “time passes.” They urge the listener to stand atop Llareggub Hill , on which sits a circle of stones made by “Mrs. Beynon’s Billy,” rather than... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...downstairs, opening the front door to greet the new day. The Reverend looks upon “ the eternal hill ” before him and exclaims “Dear Gwalia!” before expressing gratitude for his town. Though the... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...Smalls, “Mrs. Beynon’s treasure,” wakes up from her dreams of fooling around with “royalty” in Milk Wood and goes downstairs to Mrs. Beynon’s kitchen to boil water on the stove. She looks... (full context)
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...“who’s up there,” though he doesn’t much care about the answer. Nogood Boyo looks at Llareggub Hill , which is covered in trees, white houses, and farmland. (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...is near, and he wonders which of the women’s husbands had sex with Polly in Milk Wood and fathered the child that grows in her belly.  (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...overcome with a sense of nostalgia. Meanwhile, Mary Ann Sailors looks out the window at Llareggub Hill and thinks it must be “the Chosen Land.” (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...a long pause, First Voice remarks on the “music of the spheres” that echoes over Milk Wood , on which he bestows the title “The Rustle of Spring.” Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard blows her... (full context)
Intimacy Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...give her a penny.  Gwennie lists different places to kiss her, such as Goosegog Lane, Llareggub Hill , and Milk Wood. Two boys give in to Gwennie’s demands, but when she asks... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
As the afternoon draws on, and “the sea lolls, laps and idles.” Clouds float over Llareggub Hill , and donkeys and pigs dream. Mr. Pugh has fallen asleep at the table, and... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...redirects the listener’s attention to Mae Rose Cottage, who lounges lazily in a field on Llareggub Hill . She blows on a dandelion and daydreams of “the dirty old fool” who loves... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...contained in the White Book of Llareggub. According to First Voice, Bessie was “conceived in Milk Wood , born in a barn,” and ultimately abandoned. She was kissed just once, by the... (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...Bethsesda House, Reverend Eli Jenkins stands in the doorway and recites a “sunset poem” to Llareggub Hill . In the poem, Jenkins professes that while nobody who lives under Milk Wood is... (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Jack Black prepares to intercept lovers in the woods. He dons a pair of “religious trousers,” grabs a torch and bible, and ventures into... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Second Voice calls the listener’s attention to the Llareggub hillside , and the accordion music stops. First Voice describes Reverend Eli Jenkins at work in... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...Reverend Eli Jenkins, for whom The Woods are  indicative of “the innocence of men,” the woods come alive “for the second dark time this one Spring day.” (full context)