Dylan Thomas: a poet unlike any other

57764764-a8c5-485e-b677-fe4672f48162Owen Sheers at The Financial Times:

Perhaps of greater importance to Thomas’s poetry, however, was the wider cultural landscape of 1930s Wales, and Thomas’s geographical and familial location within it. Thomas’s parents were the personification of the intellectual and industrial movement from rural to urban that characterised Wales in the early 20th century. Both originated from Welsh-speaking families of agricultural and religious occupation. The young Thomas, a listener “in love with words”, found himself at the centre of a linguistic and cultural maelstrom. The languages of both Welsh and English informed his ear, just as both the streets of Swansea and the fertile fields of the Llanstephan peninsula informed his eye.

In his now famous notebooks, Thomas’s search for a poetic voice can be traced as if following his route on a map. In these notebooks, he passes through a period of derivative free verse before evolving his poems into the grander, more visceral and patterned work the world met just a few years later when he published 18 Poems. Although the book itself was modest, even retiring – no jacket copy and no author portrait, both on Thomas’s request – inside, the poems themselves were the polar opposite. Bold, physical and sonorous, they have been described by some critics as “biomorphic”. Thomas once wrote: “Every idea, intuitive or intellectual, can be imaged and translated in terms of the body, its flesh, skin, blood, sinews, veins, glands, organs, cells and senses.

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