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

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

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

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

Excerpt

Though it appear a little out of fashion, There is much care and valour in this Welshman.

Henry V, IV, 1, 85

DYLAN THOMAS has been called neo-romantic, surrealist, Freudian, apocalyptic. He has been described as a Welsh cultural irredentist, a Welsh folk poet, a Welsh prosodist. His poems have been attributed to the influence of bar and bethel, explicated in colleges, and read aloud in coffeehouses. He has been calumniated by epitaph writers and inscribed in the poets' martyrology by sentimentalists. Caught in his own myth of a latter-day Poe and Rimbaud, and exhausted by the bewildering sequence of motley and laurel, he died in a nightmare of confusion.

Dylan Thomas was a romantic poet, sharing with Keats the wonder of the senses and the bitter awareness that all flesh is grass. The epithet "apocalyptic" does not describe a poet who prophesied the end of the world in either bang or whimper; rather it suggests that Thomas's imagery was as mystical as the imagery of William Blake, Christopher Smart, St. John of the Revelation, and the authors of the Old Testament Apocrypha.

In a more formal and historical sense he was claimed as an apocalyptic poet, early in 1938, by a group of young English writers who called themselves the Apocalyptics. These young men issued a manifesto of liber-

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