The lonely desert mesas stretched to a line of mountains etched on the stark blue horizon. At an elevation of 7,000 feet the morning air was crisp and cool, even though it was July in New Mexico. I was alone in front of a little shrine that reminded me of
a country chapel. It seemed an appropriate metaphor considering whose ashes were buried there — author D. H. Lawrence, the “priest of love.”
Since the untimely death of Dylan Thomas in November 1953, the writer’s popularity has escalated, especially in his native Wales. In Swansea, the city of his birth, people who are otherwise uninterested in all things literary, flock to readings of Under Milk Wood and engage in lively discussions about it afterwards.
Trieste, Italy, is on the uneasy border where northern Italy flares out to touch Yugoslavia, with Austria hanging just above it like a storm cloud. It was James Joyce’s favorite city. I went there in 1983 to see what 500 years of Hapsburg rule (until 1918) on top of Italian rule had produced. Unexpectedly, it proved to be more interesting as Joyce’s city.