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

By H. H. Kleinman | Go to book overview

2
Sonnet II

. . there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel...
Numbers 24:17

To make a child, now swadled, to proceede Man, and then shoote up. . .
Ben Jonson, Prologue to Everyman in His Humour

THE SECOND SONNET continues the paradox of the Nativity: the child nursed at its mother's breast is the man who will drink hyssop on the Cross. To Thomas the epiphany of hope is only another metaphor of death, another shape or apparition in one history. The sonnet recalls a sixteenth-century carol and Milton's "On the orning of Christ's Nativity":

Jesu, God's Son, born He was
In a crib with hay and grass,
And died for us on the Cross
Gloria Tibi, Domine. 1

The Babe lies yet in smiling Infancy,
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss
( Stanza xvi, ll. 151-153)

There is a distortion of traditional Nativity episodes: the Child suckled at his mother's breast in the manger becomes "the child that sucketh long"; the star of Bethlehem

-23-

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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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