Dylan Thomas: The Legend and the Poet: A Collection of Biographical and Critical Essays

Dylan Thomas: The Legend and the Poet: A Collection of Biographical and Critical Essays

Dylan Thomas: The Legend and the Poet: A Collection of Biographical and Critical Essays

Dylan Thomas: The Legend and the Poet: A Collection of Biographical and Critical Essays

Excerpt

When Dylan Thomas died a few years ago, many people felt a personal loss. It was not necessary to have known him to feel this way, though a surprising number had -- he was hardly an isolate, unconvivial poet, and could be met in pubs and American bars and at low and highbrow parties, where his unconventional behaviour had already become legendary. For many it was enough to have heard his reading voice, over the B.B.C., in lecture halls, and in recordings. The voice was powerfully and unashamedly emotional and dramatic, giving the illusion of endless vitality while it celebrated, as one of its keynotes, the agony of inevitable death. Through it other men's poetry as well as his own found a large audience at a time when poetry seemed to have retreated altogether to coteries of varied seriousness and philosophical and social position, to the little magazines, and to the lecture halls of the universities. So at his death there was an expression of regret, grief, and even anger unprecedented in our time. It was said that he was a slow suicide through his legendary beer-drinking, and that the hidden cause was a milieu increasingly unsympathetic to man as man. As raconteur and good drinking-companion, he represented, to some, the survival of an apparently vanished species -- the Villonesque king of the vagabonds, taking 'vagabonds' to mean what we all essentially are in our loves, laughter, suffering, and eventual deaths. He had struck a blow for basic humanity, and died of the fight.

This personal aspect of the man, with its truths, its exaggerations, and its apocryphal anecdotes -- anyone in touch with literature can . . .

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