Austin Allen at Poetry Magazine:
Thomas’s reputation as popular bard—an Orpheus or Taliesin reincarnate—trailed him from his earliest career in Wales. From there, as detailed in Andrew Lycett’sDylan Thomas: A New Life (and Adam Kirsch’s fine biographical essay in The New Yorker), he evolved into a proto-rock star. He may well have founded the clichés of the type: the whirlwind American tours, the adoring fans, the orgiastic indulgence, the death in the hotel later made infamous by the likes of Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious, and Leonard Cohen. And, of course, Bob Dylan.
Dylan’s adoption of Thomas’s name remains an uneasy asterisk over the poet’s legacy. Noting the popularity of the name “Dylan,” which was once obscure even in Wales, Kirsch concludes that “later Dylans only borrowed its aura of youthful, brooding rebellion; in the most literal sense, Dylan Thomas made his name.” True enough—but Paul Simon’s ’60s satire “A Simple Desultory Philippic” tells the rest of the story:
He's so unhip that when you say “Dylan,”He thinks you’re talking about Dylan Thomas,Whoever he was.The man ain’t got no culture.
In that sense, Bob Dylan borrowed Thomas’s name and never gave it back.