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

By H. H. Kleinman | Go to book overview

6
Sonnet VI

And the earth was without form and void -- and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:2, 3

In the beginning was the Word . . .

John 1:1

IN THE SIXTH SONNET Thomas reworks the opening verses of Genesis and the Fourth Gospel to produce an effect of a cosmic orgy. The imagery is seismic and surgical. From an inchoate, wet vastness the Logos in its parturition erupts into a cosmos. Simultaneously there is a genesis of mutilated shape from primal ooze. The long night of uncreated void is over, and the amorphousness of chaos is at an end. The scenes recall the subterranean furnaces and mountainous seas of Blake's prophetic books, the obscene noises of Goethe's Walpurgis Night scene, and the cabalistic language of the Zohar.1

That Thomas was familiar with Blake's poems and Goethe Faust I have no doubt. Whether Thomas had ever looked at a translation of the Zohar, that darklanterned brilliance, I do not know. There was one available to him, published in England in 1932. It is more likely that Thomas, like Yeats, was attracted to

-74-

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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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