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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: Dylan Thomas’s
Under the Milkwood Tree

December 1, 2005

Dear Michael:
Your attempt to utilize a quote from Dylan Thomas’s Under The Milkwood Tree (from show 0547) was really quite funny in that my reading of Organ Morgan’s wife’s comment had nothing to do with his playing the organ, but something much more salacious.


Gerald Borman

Dear Gerald:
I’m not literary scholar, but methinks you are reflecting on the section in the first part of the story, where some women are talking gossip:

THIRD WOMAN
and think of Dai Bread with two wives
SECOND WOMAN
one for the daytime one for the night
FOURTH WOMAN
Men are brutes on the quiet
THIRD WOMAN
And how’s Organ Morgan, Mrs Morgan
FIRST WOMAN
you look dead beat
SECOND WOMAN
it’s organ organ all the time with him
THIRD WOMAN
up every night until midnight playing the organ
MRS ORGAN MORGAN
Oh, I’m a martyr to music.

I, however, was quoting from later in the story, where they are discussing Polly Garter and her offspring:

MRS PUGH
I saw you talking to a saint this morning. Saint Polly Garter. She was martyred again last night in Milk Wood. Mrs Organ Morgan saw her with Mr Waldo.
MRS ORGAN MORGAN
And when they saw me they pretended they were looking for nests,

SECOND VOICE
said Mrs Organ Morgan to her husband, with her mouth full of fish as a pelican’s.

MRS ORGAN MORGAN
But you don’t go nesting in long combinations, I said to myself, like Mr Waldo was wearing, and your dress nearly over your head like Polly Garter’s. Oh, they didn’t fool me.

SECOND VOICE
One big bird gulp, and the flounder’s gone. She licks her lips and goes stabbing again.

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 Tom 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 flat fish and pelicans it whole.

ORGAN MORGAN
And then Palestrina,
SECOND VOICE
says Organ Morgan.

The proof is that Mr. Morgan absentmindedly continues to respond by adding “And Palestrina.” Not particularly salacious, though we won’t go into the sex lives of either Bach or Palestrina, will we?

JMB

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