Dylan Thomas Selected Poems, 1934-1952

ISBN-10: 0811215423

ISBN-13: 9780811215428

Edition: 2003 (Revised)

Authors: Dylan Thomas

List price: $14.95
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Book details

List price: $14.95
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 3/11/2003
Binding: Mixed Media
Pages: 240
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.462
Language: English

The most important Welsh poet of the twentieth century, Thomas was born in Swansea, about which he remembered unkindly "the smug darkness of a provincial town." He attended Swansea Grammar School but received his real education in the extensive library of his father, a disappointed schoolteacher with higher ambitions. Refusing university study in favor of immediately becoming a professional writer, Thomas worked first in Swansea and then in London at a variety of literary jobs, which included journalism and, eventually, filmscripts and radio plays. In 1936 he began the satisfying but stormy marriage to the bohemian writer and dancer Caitlin MacNamara that would endure for the rest of his career. His life fell into a pattern of oscillation between work and dissipation in London and recovery and relaxation in a rural retreat, usually in Wales. Thomas worked in a documentary film unit during the war. Besides his poetry, he wrote plays and fiction. In the early 1950s, he gave three celebrated poetry-reading tours of the United States, during which his outrageous behavior vied with his superb reading ability for public attention. Aggravated by chronic alcoholism, his health collapsed during the last tour, and he died in a New York City hospital. In his poetry, Thomas embraced an exuberant romanticism in the encounter between self and world and a joyous riot in the lushness of language. His work falls into three periods---an early "womb-tomb" phase during which he produced a notebook, which he later mined for further poems, a middle one troubled by marriage and war, and a final acceptance of the human condition. The exuberant rhetoric of his work belies an equally strong devotion to artistry, what he once called "my craft or sullen art." His great "Fern Hill," for example, builds its imagery of the rejoicing innocence of childhood on a strict and demanding syllabic count. A recollection of boyhood holidays on the farm of his aunt and uncle, that poem places its emotion within an Edenic framework typical of Thomas's work. The impressive sonnet sequence "Altarwise by Owl-Light" (1936) combines the internal quest of romanticism with a more elaborate religious outlook in tracing the birth and spiritual autobiography of a poet. Almost at the end of his career he produced the moving elegy "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" (1952), written during the final illness of his father. Despite his periods of doubt and dissipation, Thomas celebrated the fullness of life. As he wrote in a note to his Collected Poems (1952), "These poems, with all their crudities, doubts, and confusion, are written for the love of Man and in praise of God, and I'd be a damn fool if they weren't."

Author's Note
I see the boys of summer
When once the twilight locks no longer
A process in the weather of the heart
Before I knocked
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
My hero bares his nerves
Where once the waters of your face
If I were tickled by the rub of love
Our eunuch dreams
Especially when the October wind
When, like a running grave
From love's first fever to her plague
In the beginning
Light breaks where no sun shines
I fellowed sleep
I dreamed my genesis
My world is pyramid
All all and all the dry worlds lever
I, in my intricate image
This bread I break
Incarnate devil
Today, this insect
The seed-at-zero
Shall gods be said to thump the clouds
Here in this spring
Do you not father me
Out of the sighs
Hold hard, these ancient minutes in the cuckoo's month
Was there a time
Why east wind chills
A grief ago
How soon the servant sun
Ears in the turrets hear
Foster the light
The hand that signed the paper
Should lanterns shine
I have longed to move away
Find meat on bones
Grief thief of time
And death shall have no dominion
Then was my neophyte
Altarwise by owl-light
Because the pleasure-bird whistles
I make this in a warring absence
When all my five and country senses see
We lying by seasand
It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell
O make me a mask
The spire cranes
After the funeral
Once it was the colour of saying
Not from this anger
How shall my animal
The tombstone told when she died
On no work of words
A saint about to fall
'If my head hurt a hair's foot'
Twenty-four years
The conversation of prayers
A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London
Poem in October
This side of the truth
To Others than You
Love in the Asylum
Unluckily for a death
The hunchback in the park
Into her lying down head
Do not go gentle into that good night
Deaths and Entrances
A Winter's Tale
On a Wedding Anniversary
There was a saviour
On the Marriage of a Virgin
In my craft or sullen art
Ceremony After a Fire Raid
Once below a time
When I woke
Among those Killed in the Dawn Raid was a Man Aged a Hundred
Lie still, sleep becalmed
Vision and Prayer
Ballad of the Long-legged Bait
Holy Spring
Fern Hill
In Country Sleep
Over Sir John's hill
Poem on His Birthday
In the White Giant's Thigh
Two Unfinished Poems: Elegy
Vernon Watkins' note
In Country Heaven
Daniel Jones' note
A Chronology
A Note on this Revised Edition
Index of titles and first lines
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