The Religious Sonnets of Dylan Thomas: A Study in Imagery and Meaning

By H. H. Kleinman | Go to book overview

3
Sonnet III

O strong Ramme, which hast batter'd heaven for mee,
Mild Lambe, which with thy blood, has marked the
path;. . .

John Donne, "Ascension," Holy Sonnets

For before the Nativity is the dead of the winter and after
it the quick.

Christopher Smart, Jubilate Agno, XI

THE THIRD SONNET is woven of images from Genesis, the Gospels, the Incarnation, medieval legends of Adam, puns, the zodiac, Shakespeare, Milton, Washington Irving, and one of Thomas's unpublished poems. There are three distinct parts in the third sonnet: the Atonement of Christ for Adam's sin ("Adam's wether"), the Incarnation ("descended bone"), and a zodiacal metaphor of seasons ("black ram"). The imagery falls into five categories, giving the sonnet an order which neither anarchic syntax nor disjointed chronology can disrupt:

sheep seasons Bible
lamb three dead seasons Adam
wether shuffling of the year Eve
flock of old winter tree-tailed worm
horns weathering changes skullfoot
butt twice spring [Golgotha]
horned chimed garden time [Eden]
down thunderous pave
black ram ments

-32-

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The Religious Sonnets of Dylan Thomas: A Study in Imagery and Meaning
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Sonnet I 12
  • 2 - Sonnet II 23
  • 3 - Sonnet III 32
  • 4 - Sonnet IV 44
  • 5 - Sonnet V 54
  • 6 - Sonnet VI 74
  • 7 - Sonnet VII 85
  • 8 - Sonnet VIII 94
  • 9 - Sonnet IX 102
  • 10 - Sonnet X 119
  • Notes 131
  • Bibliography 147
  • Index 149
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