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

By H. H. Kleinman | Go to book overview

8
Sonnet VIII

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Matthew 27:46
Stabat Mater dolorosa
Juxta Crucem lacrimosa
Dum pendebat Filius.
Jacopone da Todi

THIS IS THE CLIMAX of the poem. The first seven sonnets move toward this mountain in a steady ascent. The eighth sonnet marks the religious and dramatic division in the sequence. The first seven sonnets, like the seven days in Genesis, mark the old dispensation; the last three sonnets, like the last three days of the Passion, mark the new dispensation with their themes of Crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection. It is here that Thomas achieves the fearful symmetry of Calvary: the Cross itself; Christ crucified between two thieves; the Son suspended between the Father in Heaven and the mother at the foot of the Cross; the nailed Mediator between Heaven and earth, mingling both substances in himself.

In its narrative content the eighth sonnet follows the Gospel accounts of the Passion closely. In mood and tone the sonnet suggests a Stabat Mater hymn or a medieval planctus. In its brutal imagery the sonnet recalls the instruments of the Passion; and in its baroque

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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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