UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

"The existentialist void and the divine image" : the poetry of Dylan Thomas Monro, Colin James Outram 1962

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-UBC_1962_A8 M55 E9.pdf [ 6.79MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0105668.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0105668-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0105668-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0105668-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0105668-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0105668-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0105668-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0105668-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0105668.ris

Full Text

"THE EXISTENTIALIST VOID A N D THE DIVINE IMAGE"  The Poetry of Dylan Thomas  by  Colin Monro M . A . O x o n . , 1961  A Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of  in the Department of  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April, 1962  In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y British  Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t  a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y .  of freely  I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n  f o r e x t e n s i v e copying o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s It  representatives.  i s understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s  for  f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n .  Department o f The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t f i s h Columbia, Vancouver 8, anada., 8, CCanada.. Date  ABSTRACT  The principal aim of this thesis has been to trace the course of Dylan Thomas's poetic evolution, which falls roughly into three main periods. It would be wrong to consider these water-tight compartments, however, since it is possible to discern from any one stage of his development lineaments of the past or of the future. Thus any generalization is automatically so qualified. The first period is principally concerned with the creative and destructive forces which comprise the pattern of the changing and unchanging universe.  Its focal  image is procreative and its exploration of the natural dialectic is rendered very largely through the kind of perceptions belonging to the subconscious mind. It would be mistaken to infer from this that the poetry is chaotic, but its almost continual reliance upon symbolic meaning demands a response in which areas of the mind outside the rational are very often brought into play.  The obscurities of style reflect the difficulties inherent  in the putting into words of the chaos beyond consciousness. There are places where a nucleus of significance is lacking, and the poet becomes lost in obfuscated imagery, but at best he achieves a superb, solidified resonance. The second period shows a growing concern with the relation of the macrocosm to the microcosm. Correspondingly, the degrees of both affirmation and negation are more extreme. At this time the growing pressure of problems of personal existence and of a greater awareness results in the questions outnumbering the answers. There are poems so dense and so opaque they virtually defy efforts to elucidate them; others, however, reveal a greater measure of clarity and a more plastic command of language.  II  The third period is, in my opinion, the finest.  It explores the many-  colored world and possesses the mellowed abundance of artistic maturity.  At last  the poet appears to have transformed the void at the heart of being into a shining image of faith and redemption, but it should be remembered that in Thomas the negation remains and provides the impetus to his triumphant acclamation of life. Taken on its own terms existence is intolerable; his reconciliation occurs as a result of his rejecting the earth for a vision of immortality. He achieves the poised tranquillity if not the neutral flexibility of the language of,say, Keats or Yeats, which marks the vast and detached power of great poetry. Though there are places where the inspiration seems a trifle flaccid, I should not hesitate to describe the end as a rich and complete poetic harvest.  TABLE  O F CONTENTS  Page Chapter I  Introduction  1  Chapter II  The First Period : Part 1  4  Part 2  30  Chapter III  Chapter IV  Chapter V  The Middle Period : Part 1  37  Part 2  67  The Third Period : Part 1  72  Part 2  117  An Epilogue  123  Bibliography  130  CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION  Criticism field  of d i s s e n t . only  may  of  fashions  is  l e a s t admirable  we  praise  living  the worst  i n the  than the  Despite  exception  this  i n the  but  a d m i r e what  fact,  dogmatism  to Olson's claim  "there  are  fertile  Geoffrey  "meaningless hot  great  is  writers,  provided  disagreements, which range from a  since  vagaries  c r i t i q u e s of  D y l a n Thomas has  as  a battle-  most u n r e l i a b l e ,  originalities,  G r i g s o n ' s d e s c r i p t i o n of h i s p o e t r y o f mud"*  i s often  f o r p a n d e r i n g t o the  best.  o r newly d e a d .  ground f o r c r i t i c a l  literature  i t i s frequently  mistake f o r true  rule rather  either  contemporary  Also  we  the  not  of  sprawl  poems i n e a c h o f  his  o three  periods." T h e r e have been many a p p r o a c h e s t o h i s work, none  w h i c h seems t o me Freudian his  f r e e of b i a s .  strait-jacket  least partial  t o be  as  consider c a l Is  literal t o be  and  critic as  the  Stanford  has  forced  him  Merwin i n t o a r e l i g i o u s one.  i s Olson.  possible  and  My  own  i t i s my  into a Perhaps  approach endeavours aim  t o examine what  c e n t r a l course of h i s development  creation evidently  meant f o r Thomas a p r o c e s s  I  i n what Thomas  . . . the s t r i p p i n g of the i n d i v i d u a l d a r k n e s s , w h i c h must, i n e v i t a b l y , c a s t l i g h t upon what has b e e n h i d d e n f o r t o o l o n g , and by d o i n g s o , make c l e a n the naked exposure. B e n e f i t t i n g by t h e s i g h t o f l i g h t , and t h e knowledge of t h e h i d d e n n a k e d n e s s , p o e t r y must d r a g f u r t h e r i n t o t h e c l e a n n a k e d n e s s o f l i g h t more e v e n o f t h e h i d d e n causes than Freud could r e a l i z e . 3 Poetic  of  of  2 s e l f - p u r i f i c a t i o n through the e x p l o r a t i o n of dark and uncharted r e g i o n s of the s o u l .  Though such an a c t i v i t y may  participate in  psychology and r e l i g i o n , i t cannot be reduced t o one or the o t h e r , s i n c e i t i n c o r p o r a t e s areas of a c t i v i t y they do not  include.  Much of h i s poetry s u f f e r s from an o b s c u r i t y which  lies  in  the nature of the m a t e r i a l i t s e l f and i n the very strangeness  of  the s p i r i t u a l lands through which i t c u t s a path.  the poetry i s almost i n e v i t a b l e , because,  To d i s t o r t  i n r a t i o n a l i z i n g poems  which r e c o r d a s t r u g g l e t o a r t i c u l a t e t h e i r matter, we a v o i d changing i t .  can h a r d l y  The a c t of e l u c i d a t i o n i t s e l f c o n s t i t u t e s an  alteration. I s h a l l not e n t e r i n t o b i o g r a p h i c a l d i s c u s s i o n s of Thomas, nor c o n s i d e r the i n t e r p l a y between h i s w r i t i n g and s o l u t i o n among the demi-mondaine, nor how,  dis-  a Bajazeth i n a gilded  cage, i n response t o i n n e r compulsions he d e s t r o y e d h i m s e l f . The Wimbushes have done t h e i r worst and the l i o n i s dead. o f f e r e d an age a v i d f o r s e n s a t i o n in  a r o l e he o b l i g i n g l y f u l f i l l e d :  Thomas  a v a s t Bohemian p o s s i b i l i t y of the g r e a t , w i l d ,  drunken,  enfant t e r r i b l e , shocking and mocking h i s audiences, u s u a l l y t o t h e i r d e l i g h t , o c c a s i o n a l l y t o t h e i r m o r t i f i c a t i o n , but to  h i s own  invariably  discomfiture. As man  the resemblances  and poet he has been compared w i t h Rimbaud, but seem t o me m a r g i n a l .  a c o n s c i o u s attempt  Rimbaud's r e b e l l i o n  was  to e"pater l e bourgeois and sprang from the  c o n v i c t i o n that t o f u l f i l h i m s e l f as a poet r e q u i r e d him to a c t out h i s p o e t i c manifesto. was  Thomas's "Up-Rimbaud-and-At-Em  simply an unreflectfrd r e a c t i o n t o l i f e ,  Approach"  I t i s t r u e t h e i r work  3.  shares a p r e d i l e c t i o n f o r t h e . i r r a t i o n a l b u t , u n l i k e Rimbaud, Thomas was endings.  not an i c o n o c l a s t .  Most l i k e were t h e i r  They were both d e s t r o y e d The  poetry  by a j u n g l e .  of both i s o b s c u r e , but whatever  c u l t i e s p a r t i c u l a r d e t a i l s p r e s e n t the g e n e r a l usually clear.  My  spiritual  diffi-  o u t l i n e s are  i n t e n t i o n i s to d i v i d e Thomas's work i n t o  t h r e e main p e r i o d s , not because I b e l i e v e i t conforms to a s t r i c t p a t t e r n of c h r o n o l o g i c a l d i v i s i o n s , but because i t i s s u f f i c i e n t l y t r i p a r t i t e i n character cedure.  My  t o j u s t i f y such a pro=  c h i e f c o n c e r n w i l l be t o t r a c e the poet's e v o l u t i o n  from the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t world  of p r o c e s s ,  by d e a t h , to a v i s i o n of a u n i v e r s e reposes the D i v i n e  Image.  a s t e r i l e void ruled  at the c e n t r e  of which  A r e l a t e d , though secondary con-  s i d e r a t i o n , i s the development of s t y l e , which n a t u r a l l y m i r r o r s the  content. Save f o r an attempted f i d e l i t y to the works, I have  no f i x e d c r i t i c a l b i a s , u n l e s s b r o a d l y humanist s t a n d p o i n t , i s furnished with skeleton  i t be the d e s i r e t o express a  f o r I do not b e l i e v e t h a t  keys.  criticism  CHAPTER I I THE  FIRST PERIOD Part 1  Great p o e t s , i n whom n o t h i n g i s l o s t , b u t a l l i s changed, evolve continuously;  minor ones p l a y a few t u n e s , e m b e l l i s h e d  w i t h v a r i o u s r o s a l i a s , upon a s i n g l e f l u t e .  Though r e a l , Thomas's  development i s p a r t i a l ;  b r i l l i a n t and e r r a t i c r a t h e r than  s i s t e n t and s u s t a i n e d ;  a t t i m e s dense, a t o t h e r s vaporous;  i r i d e s c e n t and now c l o u d e d .  connow  I n s h o r t , though c o n f u s i o n i s p r e -  v a l e n t i n h i s work, I b e l i e v e we can s t i l l a c c o r d him g r e a t n e s s . In  the f i r s t p e r i o d , c o n t e n t and s t y l e a r e m o s t l y  homogeneous and t h e o b s c u r i t i e s o f symbol r e f l e c t t h e r e a l chaos i n the lower depths w i t h w h i c h he i s so d e e p l y The  preoccupied.  second c o n t a i n s i n t e n s e r degrees o f l i g h t and d a r k n e s s ;  some themes a r e e l a b o r a t e d , o t h e r s d i s c a r d e d , w h i l s t f r e q u e n t l y he reaches r e s o l u t i o n s o n l y t o d i s c a r d them a g a i n .  An i n c r e a s e d  awareness o f the w o r l d aronnd accompanies a d e c l i n i n g a b s o r p t i o n w i t h p r o c e s s , b u t t h e r e a r e o t h e r p i e c e s w h i c h seem l i t t l e b e t t e r than c o n c a t e n a t i o n s o f f i s s i o n a r y symbols, whose meanings r e f u s e to c o a l e s c e .  I n almost a l l r e s p e c t s , t h e t h i r d p e r i o d i s t h e  most a c c o m p l i s h e d .  I t s imagery steeped i n u n i f i e d  experience  s e r v e s an i n c r e a s i n g l y i n t e g r a t e d v i s i o n . We may take t h e f i r s t e i g h t e e n p i e c e s i n C o l l e c t e d Poems  as r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of the f i r s t p e r i o d .  Derek S t a n f o r d  c l a i m s t h a t t h e c e n t r a l image i n these poems i s t h a t " o f t h e womb"5 and "the ovum, the embryo, t h e homunculus, t h e seed."6  5.  Though p r o c r e a t i v i t y o c c u p i e s a c e n t r a l p l a c e i n many and forms the n u c l e u s o f many images, u n l e s s we can r e l a t e t h e l a t t e r t o the w i d e r c o n t e x t o f t h e p o e t ' s t o t a l development, we s h a l l n o t c a p t u r e t h e i r e s s e n t i a l meaning. In  f a c t , t h e f i r s t poem, " I see t h e boys o f summer,"  does not c e n t r e round p r o c r e a t i v i t y , but r a t h e r uses i t as a symbol o f more g e n e r a l growth and f u l f i l m e n t . The f i r s t two s t a n z a s d e s c r i b e t h e s t e r i l i t y o f a d o l e s c e n c e , a time when t h e microcosm i s i n v e r t e d , c o n f u s e d and aware o f t h e s e l f ' s  incompleteness:  There i n the sun t h e f r i g i d t h r e a d s Of doubt and dark they f e e d t h e i r n e r v e s ; The s i g n a l moon i s z e r o i n t h e i r v o i d s . The  l i g h t o f f u l f i l m e n t c o n t r a s t s w i t h the darkness o f i s o l a t i o n  and, a l o n e , man s t a n d s o u t s i d e t h e b r i g h t c i r c l e t o f t h e sunl i g h t , b r e e d i n g i n h i s n e r v e - c e l l s "doubt and d a r k , " t h e v i c t i m of  i n t r o v e r s i o n and d i s t r u s t .  Nor does t h e w h i t e beacon o f t h e  moon, t h a t s h i n e s on l o v e r s , t o u c h t h e b a r r e n s e l f - p r o j e c t i o n s of  those immured i n t h e i r own d a r k n e s s .  T h i s statement  concerns  the poet h i m s e l f , h i s g e n e r a t i o n and humanity a t l a r g e . The two s t a n z a s t h a t f o l l o w t u r n back t o p r e - n a t a l e x i s t e n c e , c o n t r a s t i n g t h e seed's p o t e n t i a l i t i e s w i t h i t s a b o r t e d fulfilment.  " N i g h t and day" a l t e r n a t e and may s p i r i t u a l l y c o -  e x i s t i n t h e womb and t h e w o r l d , but w h i l s t t h e embryo l i v e s t o the f u l l i t s u n c o n s c i o u s l i f e , w i t h growth n a t u r a l  sensibility  becomes warped, s i n c e from t h e seed " s h a l l men o f n o t h i n g s p r i n g . " 7  L i f e engenders a y o i d , b e g e t t i n g a r a c e o f " h o l l o w men."'  In thesis.  t h e next s e c t i o n , t h e d i a l e c t i c p r e s e n t s i t s a n t i -  The f a c t t h e poet a l t e r s h i s p e r s o n a t o the c o l l e c t i v e  "we" does n o t , I t h i n k , i n d i c a t e as O l s o n s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e poet i s a "pseudo-drama i n v o l v i n g t h e 'boys,' t h e i r c r i t i c and the o poet."  I p r e f e r t o r e g a r d t h e poet as a l l t h r e e and, though  t h e r e may s i m u l t a n e o u s l y be s u g g e s t i o n s o f d i s t i n c t c h a r a c t e r s , a l l merge i n t o each o t h e r , r a t h e r as the s u b j e c t s o f c e r t a i n surrealist paintings.  T h i s s e c t i o n c o n t i n u e s t o denounce "the  dark d e n i e r s , " who r e s i s t l i f e , and defends t h e dangerous i r r a t i o n a l i t y expressed i n "In s p r i n g we c r o s s o u r f o r e h e a d s w i t h t h e h o l l y , Heigh ho t h e b l o o d and berry. . . . " where t h e poet c e l e b r a t e s t h e r e b i r t h o f t h e f o r c e s o f i n s t i n c t . T h i s e x t e n d s the n o t i o n , a l r e a d y d i s c u s s e d , t h a t l i f e  resides  i n the m a i n s p r i n g s o f n a t u r e , whose d e a d l y enemy i s t h e s e l f estrangement r e s u l t i n g from s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s . The p o e t ' s ambivalence p r e v e n t s him from a t t a i n i n g a s a t i s f y i n g s y n t h e s i s and throws t h i s s e c t i o n i n t o a c e r t a i n confusion.  The d e n i e r s o f l i f e a r e a l s o i t s r e b e l s and t h e i r c o n -  duct moves w i d d e r s h i n s . T h i s betokens t h e i r r e f u s a l t o conform to  the n a t u r a l l i m i t a t i o n s , but i s a poor recompense f o r t h e i r  f a i l u r e t o a d j u s t themselves t o the w o r l d .  Somewhat as Hardy's  r e b e l s , they demand some a d m i r a t i o n f o r t h e i r r e f u s a l t o a c c e p t the  c o n f i n e s l i f e imposes, b u t t h e p r i c e they pay i s s t e r i l i t y  and d a r k n e s s .  There i s a g r i m i r o n y i n t h e f a c t t h a t those who  have t h e courage t o p r o t e s t a g a i n s t the human predicament r e a p n o t h i n g but n u l l i t y f o r t h e i r p a i n s .  7.  The  l a s t verse a g a i n adopts an ambivalent a t t i t u d e t o -  wards the p r o c r e a t i v e pantheism which at once magnetized  and  angered Thomas. I am the man your f a t h e r was. We are the sons of f l i n t and p i t c h . 0 see the p o l e s are k i s s i n g as they c r o s s . S t a n f o r d d e s c r i b e s the l a s t l i n e as a "damnatory image g  of  homosexual a c t i o n , "  an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n which seems t o me a t  odds w i t h the emphasis of the r e s t of the poem. with Olson's statement such f a t h e r .  t h a t "the boys r e f u s e to acknowledge any  They are 'the sons of f l i n t  l e s s universe."I®  Nor do I agree  and p i t c h , '  the age-  I t h i n k the poet i d e n t i f i e s the c h i l d w i t h  the f a t h e r and both'with the sub-human u n i v e r s e , choosing symbols that suggest darkness, d e f i l e m e n t , and barrenness, f o r the  'flint'  i s as s t e r i l e and the ' p i t c h ' as b l a c k as the seed i s f e r t i l e white. of  and  In a word, man's i n s t i n c t s are t a r r e d w i t h the c o r r u p t i o n s  a maculated e x i s t e n c e .  Even the i n s t i n c t u a l elements  then,  which embody the most v i t a l a s p e c t s of mankind, are p o l l u t e d . The l a s t l i n e p r o v i d e s a r e s o l u t i o n , as the p h a l l o i are changed into a cross.  The g e n e r a t i v e organs of f a t h e r and son become  the c r o s s of death.  I t indeed supposes an i r o n i c  resurrection,  not d i v i n e , but p r o c r e a t i v e , and u l t i m a t e l y r u l e d by death. The dark and d e a t h l y s i d e of l i f e ascendancy.  i s here i n the  E x i s t e n c e r e v o l v e s on the doomed wheel of g e n e r a t i o n ,  where conformity and r e s i s t a n c e to the n a t u r a l order must both succumb t o death. spark redeeming  The human t r i n i t y are grouped round the g e n e r a t i v e  l i f e from t o t a l d e s t r u c t i o n , but the c o n f l i c t  8.  between c r e a t i o n and d e s t r u c t i o n , so r e c u r r e n t i n Thomas, f i n d s here no s a t i s f a c t o r y  solution.  "When once t h e t w i l i g h t l o c k s no l o n g e r " f o c u s e s almost e x c l u s i v e l y on t h e poet's own g e n e s i s .  I t d e s c r i b e s h i s ascent  from the moment o f i n c e p t i o n t o autonomous b e i n g and t r a c e s , t h e r e f o r e , h i s p r o g r e s s i o n towards a k i n d o f ' s e l f - a r t i c u l a t i o n . ' Very l i t e r a l l y , t h e n , i t r e c o r d s "the s t r i p p i n g o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l darkness."** The  paradox i m p l i e d i n t h e l a s t poem, t h a t 'tomb' and  'womb* a r e v i r t u a l l y i n t e r c h a n g e a b l e symbols, i s c l a r i f i e d i n t h i s one.  T h i s c e r t a i n l y does n o t suggest t o me, a s i t has t o some  c r i t i c s , t h a t Thomas i s a poet o f death i n a manner comparable to R i l k e .  I n t h e l a t t e r , death i s l i f e ' s h a r v e s t , b u t i n Thomas  as o f t e n as not i t i s a monstrous e x e c u t i o n e r . The  s t r u g g l e f o r l i g h t i s s t r o n g l y marked a s t h e seed  grows u n t i l i t b u r s t s t h e l o c k - g a t e s o f the womb.  I t i s most  apparent i n the l a s t v e r s e , which c o n t a i n s a f e e l i n g o f l i b e r a t i o n , where he s a y s : The f e n c e s o f t h e l i g h t a r e down, A l l b u t t h e b r i s k e s t r i d e r s thrown, And w o r l d s hang on the t r e e s . But a g a i n death's shadow f a l l s on the w o r l d , f o r , though t h e ' f e n c e s ' a r e 'down,' l i f e s p a r e s o n l y t h e s t r o n g e s t r i d e r s ; however, t h e f e r t i l i t y o f t h e t r e e s , w h i c h bear t h e i r f l o w e r s and f r u i t s and seeds, p r e s e n t s a h o p e f u l a n a l o g y :  the e r s t -  w h i l e c h i l d - s e e d i t s e l f becomes a t r e e o f f e c u n d i t y .  9.  As i n the p r e c e d i n g p i e c e , death t r i u m p h s ,  for  Some dead undid t h e i r bushy jaws And bags of b l o o d l e t out th'eisr f l i e s . The  . . .  dead s p r o u t n o t h i n g but h a i r and t h e i r d e s s i c a t e d c e l l s emit  merely m i n u s c u l e p u s t u l e s of b l o o d .  The  inversion i s  grotesque.  Death p r o v i d e s the source of a r e p e l l e n t parody of b i r t h . Again the f a m i l i a l t r i u n e i s p r e s e n t , t h r e e f i g u r e s who  i n c a r n a t e the r a c e and the whole g e n e t i c c y c l e of mankind,  but w h i l s t the s t a n d p o i n t of the f i r s t poem i s e s s e n t i a l l y p e r s o n a l , t h i s one s e t s f o r t h i t s theme as an o b j e c t i v e f a c t of existence. "Before  I knocked" e x p l o r e s the n o t i o n of r e l a t i v i t y  through the p r e - n a t a l p r e s c i e n c e of C h r i s t , almost as i f l i f e i n the womb were an anagram of a l l b e i n g .  R a t h e r than  presenting  C h r i s t as a s u p e r n a t u r a l f i g u r e , endowed w i t h s p e c i a l f o r e s i g h t , the poet uses him t o a s s e r t an a f f i n i t y between v a r i o u s modes and s t a g e s of e x i s t e n c e , each of w h i c h c o n t a i n s a l l the o t h e r s . There are c e r t a i n l y p a n t h e i s t i c elements p r e s e n t , but I doubt i f we s h o u l d be j u s t i f i e d i n a p p l y i n g the term w i t h o u t fications.  Thomas f o c u s e s more upon the temporal  quali-  r e l a t i o n of  phenomena than upon the l a t t e r as o b j e c t s of p e r c e p t i o n . Concerning  'Mnetha's daughter' O l s o n comments, "he  s a y i n g t h a t J e s u s , as yet u n c o n c e i v e d , was  i s merely  u t t e r l y formless,  and  had every and no r e l a t i o n t o e v e r y t h i n g and everybody, as a c o n ic  sequence."  I t h i n k t h i s o v e r s i m p l i f i e s the poem's t h e m a t i c  s t r u c t u r e , f o r the c o n c l u d i n g q u a t r a i n s t r e s s e s two  distinct  10.  aspects of C h r i s t : as d i v i n e and  as mortal, possessed with d i v i n e f a c u l t i e s ,  once i n v e s t e d with human a t t r i b u t e s :  You who bow down at c r o s s and a l t a r , Remember me and p i t y Him Who took my f l e s h and bone f o r armour And doublecrossed my mother's womb. The  metaphysical  complexity  of these l i n e s i s a s t o n i s h i n g i n  so o f t e n dismissed  as an u n i n t e l l e c t u a l r h a p s o d i s t .  C h r i s t asks we  may  remember him  t a k e n f r o m man  and  therefore  guise he betrayed  As  from the  poet  himself,  i n which  of the c r u c i f i x i o n , wherein he c r u c i f i e d them both.  Resurrection  God,  and p i t y h i s former manhood  the Madonna's womanhood by the g r i s l y  the organs of g e n e r a t i o n  fruition  Once more  have changed i n t o a symbol of death.  i s i m p l i e d r a t h e r than s t a t e d .  Insofar as the poem i s p a n t h e i s t i c , i t v i r t u a l l y the f o e t a l C h r i s t with the u n i v e r s e , but suggesting  t h a t , s i n c e C h r i s t as God  contains  i n himself  c r e a t e d a t t e s t each  Whether or not t h i s c o n s t i t u t e s the  and matter i s a q u e s t i o n we  equates  I a s s e r t Thomas i s a l s o  and man  the e n t i r e c r e a t e d order, c r e a t o r and being.  one  l e v e l l i n g of  other's spirit  must attempt t o r e s o l v e .  My heart knew l o v e , my b e l l y hunger; I smelt the maggot i n my s t o o l . . , , d e f i n e s C h r i s t ' s m o r t a l i t y i n terms of i n s t i n c t . emphasizes h i s common humanity;  but  It therefore  though h i s assumption of  f l e s h has e n r i c h e d our p h y s i c a l being,  the converse i s e q u a l l y  true: I who was r i c h was made the r i c h e r By s i p p i n g at the vine of days. . . .  11.  which c o m p l i c a t e s  t h e i s s u e by s u g g e s t i n g  something t o l e a r n from t h e t e m p o r a l .  t h a t t h e e t e r n a l has  Throughout a l l h i s p o e t r y ,  Thomas's C h r i s t remains p e c u l i a r l y a n t h r o p o m o r p h i c , t h e a n t i t h e s i s of Baudelaire's  a n g e l , who i s r e v i l e d f o r h i s t o t a l i g -  norance o f s u f f e r i n g .  I t would be f a l s e t o c l a i m t h a t t h e f i r s t  p e r i o d i s e x c l u s i v e l y e x i s t e n t i a l i s t , but i t s a x i s i s m o r t a l i t y and  i t s p r e s i d i n g d e i t y i s death. True pantheism appears more c e r t a i n l y i n "A P r o c e s s i n  the weather o f t h e h e a r t " and "Ehe f o r c e t h a t t h r o u g h t h e green f u s e d r i v e s the f l o w e r , " where a s i n g l e g e n e r a t i v e  principle,  informing a l l matter, u n i t e s i t i n t o a s i n g l e process. p i e c e s a r e impregnated w i t h a m o r t a l a dynamic p r i n c i p l e .  Both  immanence w o r k i n g t h r o u g h  I n the second work e s p e c i a l l y , a s t r o n g  d i a l e c t i c s k e l e t o n s u p p o r t s t h e symbols, f o r m i n g a c o h e s i v e p a t t e r n o f u n i t y i n d i v e r s i t y and t h e r e v e r s e ,  i n s t e a d o f as i n  v a r i o u s p l a c e s e l s e w h e r e c o n f r o n t i n g t h e r e a d e r w i t h a random assortment o f k a l e i d o s c o p i c The  fragments.  f i r s t poem d e s e r v e s a b r i e f comment o n l y .  It i s  worth n o t i n g , however, t h a t i t s u n d e r l y i n g premise o f b e i n g  belies  phenomenal r e a l i t y when he w r i t e s : . . . t h e q u i c k and dead Move l i k e two g h o s t s b e f o r e Thus t h e r e a l m o f p r o c e s s i t s e l f imposed upon a u n i v e r s e of a l l b e i n g .  the e y e .  has become an i l l u s i o n s u p e r -  o f shadows.  Unbeing l i e s a t t h e h e a r t  L i f e and death a r e s i m p l y  two names f o r a dance  12. of  shades.  A terrible  negation haunts these  poet had s t r e t c h e d  o u t h i s hand t o c a p t u r e  heart  and found i t c l o s e d  of existence  depths of d e s o l a t i o n  the q u i n t e s s e n t i a l  upon n o t h i n g n e s s .  l i e behind h i s utteranceI  t r u t h compels him t o p e n e t r a t e e v e r deeper but  at this point  l i n e s as i f the  of h i s s p i r i t u a l  What  H i s search f o r  i n t o t h e unknown,  evolution,  instead  of the  s h i m m e r i n g s p i r e s o f t h e s o u l ' s r e s t o r e d A t l a n t i s , he s e e s m e r e l y a vacuum. "The  force  that  through the green  flower"  i s more s u b j e c t i v e  lyric.  The dynamic o p p o s i t i o n  f o r c e s a t once s u c c e s s i v e  a n d more i n t e n s e  fuse  d r i v e s the  than the  preceding  o f c r e a t i o n and d e s t r u c t i o n ,  and c o - e x i s t e n t ,  a r e i t s two  antipodes,  between w h i c h l i e s a l l e x i s t e n c e . First  comes t h e t h e s i s :  The f o r c e t h a t t h r o u g h t h e g r e e n f u s e D r i v e s my g r e e n a g e . . . .  drives  the flower  then the a n t i t h e s i s : . . . that b l a s t s the r o o t s I s my d e s t r o y e r . Life, and  like  matter.  whilst  t h e H i n d u god S h i v a ,  of trees  a t once makes and b r e a k s  The i m a g e r y s u g g e s t i n g  life  i s markedly  man  sexual,  d e a t h a p p e a r s a t h i s most g r u e s o m e l y m e d i a e v a l .  In h i s 1  critique  o f Thomas i n a c h a p t e r e n t i t l e d  "The  q  Medievalist,"  Treece observes,  "The s e n s e o f s i n . . .  poet's conception  o f D e a t h a n d r e t r i b u t i o n and i s a n o t h e r way  of and  s t a t i n g the hope-fear m o t i f . "  1 4  i s implicit  Possibly  true,  i n the  i f creation  d e s t r u c t i o n a r e a l g e b r a i c a l l y e q u a l t o hope a n d f e a r  13.  respectively.  But what i s t h e advantage o f t r a n s l a t i n g them  i n t o q u e s t i o n a b l y synonymous terms?  Furthermore,  this  criticism  o v e r l o o k s t h e f a c t t h a t l i f e and death here emerge as i n s e p a r a b l e f o r c e s which we cannot e n t e r i n t o m o r a l f i l i n g - c a b i n e t s .  For  b e t t e r o r f o r worse, they govern u s . D e s p i t e t h e f a c t t h a t a l l phenomena share a s i n g l e f a t e , they e x i s t i n i s o l a t i o n . And  As t h e poet s a y s :  I am dumb t o t e l l t h e crooked  rose  My y o u t h i s b e n t by t h e same w i n t r y  fever.  , , ,  and a g a i n i n : And  I am dumb t o t e l l t h e l o v e r ' s tomb  How a t my sheet goes the same c r o o k e d worm. Herein l i e s the u l t i m a t e horror of l i f e ' s tragedy. s u f f e r s i n s o l i t u d e t h e same f a t e .  Common p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n t h e  same d e s t i n y does not a l l e v i a t e o u r i n d i v i d u a l nor enable us t o l i g h t e n i t w i t h communication. a l o n e i n a c o u n t l e s s crowd.  Each one  inarticulacy We a r e each  T h i s i s a w o r l d f o r e s o l d t o death  and we a r e t h e h e l p l e s s d r i f t w o o d o f i t s d i a l e c t i c . At t h e c o n c l u s i o n , t h e t w i n powers u n i t e and b i n d t o gether the l i v i n g and t h e dead, but i t i s d e a t h who i s t r i u m p h a n t . In  "Where once t h e w a t e r s o f your f a c e "  f a i t h pre-  v a i l s over death, though i t must succumb t o i t i n t h e end. The poet can o n l y v i n d i c a t e l i f e a b s o l u t e l y by c o n v e r t i n g i t i n t o death and t r a n s f o r m i n g the l a t t e r i n t o a s u p e r n a t u r a l parturition. at  Thus we cannot o v e r l o o k t h e f a c t t h a t death  lies  the heart of not only h i s negations, but a l s o h i s a f f i r m a t i o n s ,  s i n c e i n e i t h e r event t h i s m o r t a l e x i s t e n c e i s d e a t h - r i d d e n and  14. t o l e r a b l e o n l y through i t s r e j e c t i o n . T h i s p i e c e t e s t i f i e s t o l o v e ' s Promethean v i c t o r y , which abutsl  upon death's f i n a l t r i u m p h , y e t r e f u s e s t o be  q u e l l e d by i t : There s h a l l be c o r a l s i n your beds, There s h a l l be s e r p e n t s i n your t i d e s , T i l l a l l our s e a - f a i t h s d i e . There i s an o b v i o u s echo here of A r i e l ' s song, which b e g i n s F u l l fathom f i v e they f a t h e r l i e s ; Of h i s bones are c o r a l made. . . .15 In e i t h e r case death changes r a t h e r than a n n i h i l a t e s .  In  Thomas's poem, the o b j e c t a d d r e s s e d i s s t r i p p e d of almost e v e r y human a t t r i b u t e and becomes a symbol of womanhood, of the feminine p r i n c i p l e i n l i f e .  T h i s r e f l e c t s the urge i n t h e  f i r s t p e r i o d t o r e n d e r o b j e c t s not as the c o n s c i o u s mind p e r c e i v e s them, but as the s u b c o n s c i o u s e x p e r i e n c e s them. are  They  t h e r e f o r e t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o p r o j e c t i o n s of the p o e t ' s psyche.  He c o n f r o n t s us w i t h a c u r i o u s l y s y s t e m a t i c e f f o r t t o dredge the depths of h i s s o u l and t o p o r t r a y i t s c o n t e n t s as they actually exist there.  In "The Waste Land"  E l i o t uses a t e l e -  graphic* t e c h n i q u e e x t e n s i v e l y , r e c a l l i n g the p r o c e s s e s of the stream of c o n s c i o u s n e s s , but c o n c e n t r a t e s more upon e x t e r n a l phenomena than upon the i n n e r w o r k i n g s of the mind. Though Thomas was not 'committed'  i n the f a s h i o n a b l e  sense t o e x p o s i n g the s p e c i f i c e v i l s o f our age, i n "Our Eunuch dreams"  he approaches a more r e c o g n i z a b l y modern l a n d s c a p e .  Here he j u x t a p o s e s t h r e e c e n t r a l c o n c e p t s :  s l e e p , the f a l s e  r e f l e x i o n of l i f e c a s t by the s c r e e n and a waking  state.  15.  The dream, composed of s t e r i l e f a n t a s y , i s ' s e e d l e s s ; '  the  c e l l u l o i d g i v e s 'love the l i e ' by s i m p l y a p i n g i t , w h i l s t the t h i r d s e c t i o n i n t r o d u c e s a c o m p l i c a t i o n over and above the f o r e g o i n g ones, as he demands: Which i s the w o r l d ? Of our two s l e e p i n g s , w h i c h S h a l l f a l l awake when c u r e s and t h e i r i t c h R a i s e up t h i s red-eyed e a r t h ? t h e r e b y p o s i n g the q u e s t i o n r a i s e d by a f a b l e Chuang Chou r e l a t e s of h i m s e l f : "Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a b u t t e r f l y , ing  flutter-  here and t h e r e j u s t as i f he was a b u t t e r f l y , c o n s c i o u s of  following i t s inclinations.  I t d i d not know t h a t i t was Chuang  Chou.  Suddenly he awoke;  and then demonstrably he was Chuang  Chou.  But he does not know now whether he i s Chuang Chou who  dreamt he was a b u t t e r f l y or a b u t t e r f l y dreaming he i s Chuang Chou."  1 6  Both w r i t e r s a r e q u e s t i o n i n g the n a t u r e o f r e a l i t y and b o t h , i n these passages a t l e a s t , suggest i t i s o n l y the s u b j e c t ' s s t a n d p o i n t w h i c h d i s t i n g u i s h e s i t from  illusion.  The f o u r t h s e c t i o n d e s c r i b e s a w o r l d composed of c e l l u l o i d and the ' t r a s h ' of dreams.  H a v i n g r e a c h e d an  intel-  l e c t u a l impasse, the poet seeks t o r e s o l v e i t w i t h an a p p e a l to  f a i t h and l o v e .  The dilemma p r e s e n t here r u n s p a r a l l e l  to  Keats' struggle to r e c o n c i l e l i f e with a r t .  I n Thomas the  c o n f l i c t l i e s between r e a s o n and the s u p e r - r a t i o n a l . be f a l s e t o accuse him of t a k i n g an easy escape.  I t would  He i s s i m p l y  u s i n g a t h i r d f o r c e t o i l l u m i n a t e a chaos o f u n r e a l i t i e s t h a t  16.  o b s c u r e l y and d i s t o r t e d l y m i r r o r each o t h e r ' s i l l u s o r y I t expresses  nature.  the s e a r c h t o f i n d l o v e i n a w o r l d where i t i s e n -  compassed by E r s a t z c o u n t e r f e i t s t h a t mock i t . 'IWhen l i k e a r u n n i n g g r a v e " p r e s e n t s g r e a t e r  diffi-  c u l t i e s than any p i e c e so f a r c o n s i d e r e d , p a r t l y on account o f i t s syntax and audited p u n c t u a t i o n , but a l s o because o f a cons c i o u s l y c r y p t i c method o f r e l a t i n g t h e symbols. for,  The poet a s k s  and i s r e f u s e d , d e l i v e r a n c e from Death, r u l e r o f t h i s  country of l i f e . Love's t w i l i t : n a t i o n and t h e s k u l l o f s t a t e , S i r , i s your doom. . . . i s t h e masters* r e p l y .  A t t h e c o n c l u s i o n , t h e poet r e a l i z e s t h e  f u t i l i t y o f h i s p l e a and r e s i g n s h i m s e l f t o m o r t a l i t y .  Though  the p i e c e as a whole i s u n s a t i s f a c t o r y , 'Cadaver* i s i m p o r t a n t to  our t h e s i s .  The d e s t r u c t i v e element i n t h e t w i n f o r c e t h a t  'through the green f u s e d r i v e s t h e f l o w e r ' i s d i v o r c e d here from i t s c o u n t e r p a r t and i s now ' s t a l k i n g ' l i f e .  T h i s change i n t h e  p o e t ' s p e r s p e c t i v e i n d i c a t e s t h a t he i s emerging from t h e ambivalent  world of the subconscious  and becoming aware o f ,  as d i s t i n c t e n t i t i e s , t h e f o r c e s g o v e r n i n g  existence. .  In s t r o n g c o n t r a s t t o t h e f o r e g o i n g work, " I n t h e beginning"  i s a f f i r m a t i v e , G e n e s i s and d e a t h compose y e t a n o t h e r  p a t t e r n , f r e e from ambivalence and from h o s t i l i t y , i n t h e p o e t ' s d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e p r i m a l u n i t y o f t h e u n i v e r s e , when he w r i t e s : And, b u r n i n g c y p h e r s on t h e round o f space, Heaven and h e l l mixed a s they spun. Perhaps f o r t h e f i r s t time c l e a r l y t h e r e emerges one o f t h e main  17.  concepts i n h i s p o s i t i v e v i s i o n :  t h a t t h e o r i g i n a l source o f  l i f e and i t s u l t i m a t e r e s o l u t i o n c o n s i s t o f a u n i t y i n d i v e r s i t y and  t h e c o n v e r s e , between w h i c h l i e s a s e a o f chaos, o r a f a l l e n  o r d e r composing l i f e as we o u r s e l v e s The  experience i t .  a c t o f c r e a t i o n u n l o c k e d a Pandora's box:  B l o o d shot and s c a t t e r e d t o t h e w i n d s o f l i g h t The r i b b e d o r i g i n a l o f l o v e . I t a l s o s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e p r o c e s s o f c r e a t i o n c o n s i s t e d of r e d u p l i c a t i n g a s i n g l e o r i g i n a l image o f l o v e . An e x p a n s i o n o f t h e opening o f S t . John's G o s p e l , t h e poem p o s s e s s e s a d e l i c a c y r a r e among t h e s t r i d e n t h e c t i c of much o f t h e e a r l i e r p o e t r y .  violence  The i m p r i n t o f l i g h t and form  upon chaos and d a r k n e s s i s b e a u t i f u l l y r e n d e r e d : In t h e b e g i n n i n g was t h e word, t h e word That from t h e s o l i d bases of t h e l i g h t A b s t r a c t e d a l l t h e l e t t e r s of t h e v o i d . . . . In these l i n e s t h e word i s t h e a c t o f c r e a t i o n , t h e d i v i n e p r i n t i n g i t s l i g h t upon p r i m e v a l  chaos.  logos,  A f l a s h of l i g h t n i n g  r i p s t h r o u g h t h e encompassing darkness and t h e unending c y c l e of g e n e r a t i o n of g e n e s i s ,  has begun.  I n h i s e x p l o r a t i o n o f t h e whole theme  t h e poet has now moved back t o t h e f i r s t cause and,  i n d o i n g s o , passed beyond t h e r e v o l u t i o n s o f t h e f a l l e n His disoovery  o f an a c t o f p r o c r e a t i o n , t r a n s c e n d i n g  of our own e x i s t e n c e ,  temporarily  order.  the c y c l e  a l l e v i a t e s t h e sense o f doom  from which he i s never t o escape e n t i r e l y .  Here t h e s p i r i t has  t u r n e d t o contemplate a l i g h t and darkness o u t s i d e  i t s e l f and  i t s awareness o f t h e l o g o s i s touched w i t h a s h i n i n g wonder.  18  In " L i g h t b r e a k s where no sun s h i n e s , "  t h e same theme  i s developed i n sexual r a t h e r than m y s t i c a l utterance. i n the poet's a t t i t u d e  A change  towards p r o c e s s has become a p p a r e n t .  In  the e a r l i e s t poems every c o n t r a r y d i s s o l v e s i n t o d e a t h , but as he grows more c o n s c i o u s o f t h e numerous p e r s p e c t i v e s o f l i f e , more and more he q u e s t i o n s t h e r i g h t o f m a t t e r t o monopolize reality. In t h i s p i e c e he h o l d s i n h i s gaze unchanging and t h e seasons, but t h e l a s t s t a n z a c o m p l i c a t e s  nature  the p r e v a i l i n g  mood: When l o g i c s d i e , The s e c r e t o f t h e s o i l grows t h r o u g h t h e e y e , And b l o o d jumps i n t h e s u n ; Above t h e waste a l l o t m e n t s t h e dawn h a l t s . Reason must d i e t h a t we may t r u l y l i v e i n harmony w i t h The r u i n e d v e s t i g e s o f c u l t i v a t i o n i n d i c a t e  nature.  the f a i l u r e of reason  t o p r e v a i l and t h e dawn l i g h t s up t h e i r d r a b n e s s .  In t h i s b i -  s e c t i o n o f b l o o d from b r a i n , we c a n d e t e c t t h e f i r s t s i g n s o f the p o e t ' s r e a l i z a t i o n o f t h e c o n f l i c t i n g elements i n human nature.  Though l i g h t and i n s t i n c t t r i u m p h ,  t o e x p i r e w i t h t h e c l o s e o f t h e poem.  t h e i r v i c t o r y seems  Why does t h e dawn  u n l e s s he means t h a t r e a s o n p a r a l y z e s i n s t i n c t ?  'halt,'  Perhaps t h i s  i l l u s t r a t e s h i s contention that Out o f t h e i n e v i t a b l e c o n f l i c t o f images i n e v i t a b l e because o f t h e c r e a t i v e , recreative, d e s t r u c t i v e and c o n t r a d i c t o r y n a t u r e o f t h e m o t i v a t i n g c e n t r e , t h e womb o f war - I t r y t o make t h a t momentary peace w h i c h i s a poem."  17  19  At t h i s p o i n t t h e n , maybe peace i s c o - e x t e n s i v e  o n l y w i t h the  poem i t s e l f , l e a v i n g us t h e r e f o r e , i n s t e a d o f t h e f e e l i n g o f r e s t f u l f i n a l i t y , a sense o f a b r i e f r e s p i t e f r o m c o n f l i c t . I n " I dreamed my g e n e s i s "  and "My w o r l d i s p y r a m i d , "  a ghost r e l a t e s i t s b i r t h and d e a t h , but w h i l s t i n the f i r s t a r e s u r r e c t i o n occurs, Stanford  t h e second ends on a more p a n t h e i s t i c n o t e .  remarks t h a t i n t h e f i r s t p i e c e " t h e poet  l o o k s back dreaming h i s a c t o f b i r t h over a g a i n .  . . . pre-  experiences death i n w a r . " T h i s i s t r u e , but I t h i n k i t i s 1 8  i m p o r t a n t t o emphasize t h a t he p r e s e n t s h i m s e l f  as a v o i c e ,  l o c a t e d i n n e i t h e r time nor space, r e c o r d i n g h i s b i r t h and d e a t h . The  r e c o l l e c t i v e dream u n i t e s t h e two f u n c t i o n s .  One  . . . filed Through a l l t h e i r o n s i n t h e g r a s s . the o t h e r  . . .  forced My second s t r u g g l i n g from t h e g r a s s .  Both a r e an exodus from e a r t h , a s t r u g g l e t o f r e e t h e s e l f from the womb o f d a r k n e s s .  U n t i l t h e s p i r i t has grown weary o f  m a t t e r , however, i t cannot a c h i e v e t h e f i n a l l i b e r a t i o n , when . . . vision Of new man s t r e n g t h , The  I seek t h e s u n .  dead s o l d i e r ' s ghost has become ' S t a l e o f Adam's b r i n e ' and  a t l a s t seeks t h e h e a r t o f l i g h t . I t i s a complex p a t t e r n and a t l e a s t f i v e d i f f e r e n t kinds of r e b i r t h are apparent:  an a c t u a l b i r t h , a dreamed-of  b i r t h , an a c t u a l d e a t h , a dreamed-of d e a t h and a p a n t h e i s t i c resurrection.  T h i s i s a theme b r i l l i a n t l y developed i n t h e  magnificent e l e g i e s .  20. I t i s i m p o s s i b l e t o c o n f i n e the e a r l y p o e t r y w i t h i n a single philosophy.  A p r e v a i l i n g a m b i g u i t y surrounds t h e  p o e t ' s a t t i t u d e towards t h e n a t u r e o f p r o c e s s . t h r e e g r e a t fundamentals  Using the  o f e x i s t e n c e , b i r t h , p r o c r e a t i o n and  d e a t h , a s h i s t h e m a t i c n u c l e i i , he p r e s e n t s them i n v a r i o u s r e l a t i o n s t o each o t h e r and seeks d i v e r s e s o l u t i o n s o f the problems they r a i s e .  I n the p r e c e d i n g p i e c e , f o r i n s t a n c e , i t i s f r u i t -  l e s s t o s p e c u l a t e a s t o the s p e c i f i c form t h e r e s u r r e c t i o n assumes.  He s u g g e s t s t h a t the ghost becomes s l o w l y weaned from  i t s adherence t o m a t t e r , b u t i n what sense i t outgrows i t c a n not be s e t t l e d .  L i k e many p o e t s , Thomas subsumes m e t a p h y s i c a l  c o n c e p t s under a v i s i o n .  Poetry, being a 'super-rational*  a c t i v i t y , we cannot demand o f i t t h e l o g i c o f r e a s o n .  None-  t h e l e s s , we may o b j e c t t h a t the p o e t ' s p r e o c c u p a t i o n w i t h so few themes tends t o become monotonous. "My w o r l d i s pyramid" moves from the seas o f t h e womb t o the seas o f d e a t h .  I n " I see t h e boys o f summer,"  he d e s c r i b e s s p i r i t u a l d e f o r m i t y ;  he now e x p l o r e s the con-  c e p t i o n o f a c r i p p l e , o f whom he says . . . h a l f of l o v e was p l a n t e d i n the l o s t And the u n p l a n t e d g h o s t . H a l f o f the p r o c r e a t i v e f o r c e i n e i t h e r p a r e n t was l o s t i n t h e g h o s t l y complement t h a t i s the measure o f man's i n c o m p l e t e n e s s . The c r i p p l e i s n o t s i m p l y an u n l u c k y a c c i d e n t ;  he i s t h e poet  h i m s e l f , he i s man and the d e f i c i e n c i e s o f man's warped s t a t e . A sense o f l i f e ' s f a i l u r e t o f u l f i l i t s e l f and o f i t s d e s t r u c t i v e ness i s n o t new t o the p o e t r y , b u t i t i s a theme which g a t h e r s  21.  momentum throughout h i s development. The f i r s t s e c t i o n s u g g e s t s t h e h o r r o r s t h a t l u r k i n the  s u b c o n s c i o u s , w h i c h i s surrounded by . . . t i d e - t o n g u e d heads and b l a d d e r s i n t h e deep. . . .  and  ' b r a i d i n g a d d e r s ' o f Medusas;  i n a word, a l l t h e monstrous  p a r a p h e n a l i a o f t h e images w h i c h haunt t h e lower depths o f t h e spirit. The f i r s t s e c t i o n c o n c l u d e s w i t h t h e g h o s t ' s dumb bewilderment, a s , plunged i n t o d e a t h , i t gropes f o r some c l u e to  t h e meaning and n a t u r e o f e x i s t e n c e . The ghost i s dumb t h a t stammered i n t h e s t r a w . . . .  emphasizes  i t s inarticulacy. The next s e c t i o n t a k e s us i n t o a l a n d o f d e a t h , where  the  v o i c e o f t h e dead man d e s c r i b e s h i s d i s s e m i n a t i o n amongst  the  world: Who seek me landward, marking i n my mouth The s t r a w s o f A s i a , l o s e me as I t u r n Through t h e A t l a n t i c c o r n .  These l i n e s r a i s e a problem, namely, what i s t h e r e l a t i o n between t h e v o i c e and i t s s c a t t e r e d p a r t i c l e s ?  Does t h e poet  pose a s p i r i t u a l e n t i t y d i s t i n c t from i t s p h y s i c a l e l e m e n t s , or  i s he endowing t h e d i s c r e t e remnants of p h y s i c a l l i f e  awareness?  with  The answer would seem t o be t h a t , though i t s f l e s h -  l y elements a r e d i s p e r s e d t h r o u g h the w o r l d , d e s p i t e t h e i r d i s i n t e g r a t i o n , the s p i r i t  tragic  c l o t h e d i n an ' a n g e l ' s hood,' r e t a i n s  a sense o f p h y s i c a l u n i t y . The c o n c l u s i o n s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e ghost i s about t o  22.  enter a f u r t h e r c y c l e of e x i s t e n c e : My c l a y unsuckled and my s a l t unborn, The s e c r e t c h i l d , I s h i f t about the sea Dry i n the h a l f - t r a c k e d t h i g h . I t a l s o u n i t e s the c r i p p l i n g of the n a r r a t o r w i t h the b i s e c t i o n of the c r e a t i v e f o r c e . d i s p a r a t e elements  T h i s f i n a l gesture t o r e c o n c i l e the  of the work and t o r e i n t e g r a t e body and  does not succeed c o m p l e t e l y .  But, d e s p i t e a p e r c e p t i b l e  soul  degree  of m e t a p h y s i c a l c o n f u s i o n , the g i s t of the u t t e r a n c e i s c l e a r . Man,  says the poet, i s incomplete and s t u n t e d ;  ment i s a b o r t i v e ;  a t h i s death yet a f u r t h e r d e c r e a t i o n o c c u r s ;  yet r e b i r t h i s a coalescence and, completeness,  h i s develop-  indeed, u n t i l he has achieved  he must r e - e n t e r the p h y s i c a l wheel of being.  Though the form which such n o t i o n s take here i s d i s c o n c e r t i n g l y s t r a n g e , t h e i r seminal content i s r e c o g n i z a b l e i n P l a t o n i s m and Buddhism.  The c e n t r a l p o s i t i o n i n Thomas's poetry of a deadly  v o i d suggests the unconscious  i n t r u s i o n of c e r t a i n i d e a s f a m i l i a r  t o the student of E a s t e r n r e l i g i o n and some of i t s p h i l o s o p h i c a l tributaries.  Venal man  f a t e and remains  a l i v e and dead f u l f i l s the d i c t a t e s of  the p a s s i v e v i c t i m of h i s karma.  t h i s ghost i s the dwarf of g i a n t  circumstance.  " A l l a l l and a l l the dry worlds l e v e r , " E i g h t e e n Poems,  L i k e Jude,  i s a d i f f u s e rhapsody  the l a s t of  on the omnipresence among  a l l c r e a t i o n of the g e n e r a t i v e p r i n c i p l e .  It i s l i t e r a l l y  an  address t o p r o c e s s , but i t s f a i l u r e t o c r e a t e a nodal p o i n t r e s u l t s i n chaos.  U n i t y i n d i v e r s i t y i s a theme t h a t  persists  through the poet's work and becomes s u c c e s s f u l only when he  allies  23. i t t o some p a r t i c u l a r  situation.  Some c r i t i c s r e g a r d F l o w e r , f l o w e r the p e o p l e ' s f u s i o n . . . . as a p l e a f o r p o l i t i c a l u n i t y , but I doubt i f the d e s i r e t o e s t a b l i s h a u n i f i e d w o r l d shows here a n y t h i n g more s p e c i f i c than a b a s i c sense o f human r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t o an o b v i o u s need: cosmic harmony. Among the e a r l y poems t h e r e i s a group t h a t s t a n d s a p a r t from the r e s t .  In o r d e r t o p r e s e n t the p o e t ' s  total  e v o l u t i o n as f a i t h f u l l y as p o s s i b l e , I have d e c i d e d t o i n c o r porate  L i . t . : i n t o my  analysis.  " I f I were t i c k l e d by the rub of l o v e "  i s the  first.  U n l i k e the p i e c e s we have examined so f a r , w h i c h a r e c h i e f l y concerned  w i t h v a r i o u s a s p e c t s of man  i n r e l a t i o n t o a dynamic  p r i n c i p l e , i n t h i s the poet c o n f r o n t s us as a l i t e r a r y  artist  a t t e m p t i n g t o d e f i n e h i s r e l a t i o n s w i t h the w o r l d . The f i r s t f i v e s t a n z a s show the inadequacy  of l o v e  to provide a s a t i s f a c t o r y p a l l i a t i v e f o r h i s i n s e c u r i t y .  It  i s m o r t a l i t s e l f and l e f t , no l e s s than he, a t time's mercy and t o death w h i c h w i l l devour them b o t h . Having  f a i l e d t o f i n d a r e f u g e , the poet can o n l y  . . . s i t and watch the worm b e n e a t h my Wearing the q u i c k away.  nail  And t h a t ' s the r u b , the o n l y rub t h a t t i c k l e s . By death a l o n e he a f f i r m s h i s e x i s t e n c e . ironyI  The  This i s a  hideous  shock of i t s d i s c o v e r y r e n d e r s him h e l p l e s s and  24.  passive, contemplating  the p r o c e s s o f d e s t r u c t i o n t h a t i s a l -  r e a d y a t work i n him. The  c o n c l u s i o n , however, r e s o l v e s t h e enmity  estab-  l i s h e d between l o v e and d e a t h , as he a s k s : And what's t h e rub? Death's f e a t h e r on t h e nerve? Your mouth, my l o v e , t h e t h i s t l e i n t h e k i s s ? My Jack o f C h r i s t born thorny on t h e t r e e ? Q u e s t i o n f o l l o w s q u e s t i o n as he seeks t o f i n d some s o l u t i o n t o the f a c t t h a t death l i e s a t the heart of a l l h i s devices t o evade i t s f e a r .  He r e s o l v e s t h i s c o n f l i c t by d e d i c a t i n g him-  s e l f t o man, who c o n t a i n s t h e f r u i t s o f l i f e and d e a t h and embraces i n h i s b e i n g a l l t h o u g h t s and f e e l i n g s . j e c t s nothing;  The poet r e -  he makes no attempt t o c a n c e l d e a t h , but he s a y s ,  s i n c e man i s a l l h i s c o n t r a r i e s , i t i s o f him t h a t he s h o u l d sing.  The l a s t l i n e r i n g s l i k e a d e c l a r a t i o n , as i f Thomas,  h a v i n g e x p l o r e d l i f e ' s two b o u n d a r i e s and a t t e m p t e d t o u n i t e them t h r o u g h t h e d r i v i n g image o f p r o c r e a t i o n , has begun t o become more a c u t e l y aware o f a l l t h a t l i e s between: predicament as a man e x p e r i e n c e s  it.  t h e human  He has a l s o begun t o  a c c e p t c e r t a i n fundamentals, above a l l t h e i n d i v i s i b l e c o - e x i s t ence i n humanity o f l o v e and d e a t h .  A r t i s the supremely u n i -  fying force. K e a t s f a c e d a d i f f e r e n t problem: interweaving dichotomy:  l i f e and a r t .  the d i f f i c u l t y of  But i n Thomas t h e r e i s no such  a r t i n i t s e l f i s a harmony t h a t seeks t o i n t e g r a t e  the d i s p a r a t e m a t t e r o f e x p e r i e n c e .  Throughout h i s whole de-  velopment, t h e a c t o f w r i t i n g remained f o r him an u n q u e s t i o n e d  25.  need and I doubt i f he ever reached self-detachment  * • p o i n t of  artistic  where he became aware of h i s a r t as a pheno-  menon i t s e l f p o s i n g no fewer q u e s t i o n s than o t h e r a s p e c t s of life.  We  fill  f i n d i n h i s work n o t h i n g , I t h i n k , t h a t seems t o  u t t e r l y the w o r l d i t c r e a t e s , i n the f a s h i o n of  Keats's  Odes. Perhaps the f i n e s t of the e a r l y poems i s " E s p e c i a l l y when the October w i n d . "  In c o n t r a s t t o the f o r e g o i n g l y r i c ,  i t p r e s e n t s a r t and l i f e as v i r t u a l l y The  interchangeable.  f i r s t s t a n z a d e s c r i b e s a landscape  once both a c t u a l and s y m b o l i c , b o t h microcosmic  that i s at and macrocosmic.  He d e s c r i b e s h i s p o e t i c i n t e n t i n terms of the s e t t i n g where f i r e and i c e m i n g l e , and w i s h e s t o i n t e r p e n e t r a t e h i s a r t and the  scene. My busy h e a r t who  shudders as she  talks  Sheds the s y l l a b i c b l o o d and d r a i n s her words. . . . a t t e s t s the merging of h i s whole b e i n g w i t h p o e t r y . c r u c i b l e i n w h i c h the a c t u a l and the p o e t i c f u s e . a power t h a t embraces the whole man a l c e n t r e of b e i n g , the h e a r t .  He  i s the  Poetry i s  and r i s e s from the  tradition-  But words t o o have a h e a r t  and  as the h e a r t d r a i n s the words, so do the words b l e e d i t . 'Shudders' s u g g e s t s the o r g i a s t i c e c s t a e y and p a i n of composition.  Thus, i n t h i s s t a n z a the poet d e s c r i b e s the r e l a t i o n  between a r t and l i f e and of both t o h i m s e l f and d e f i n e s h i s c r e a t i v e aims i n images.  26.  The  second s t a n z a e s t a b l i s h e s t h a t f o r him t h e w o r l d  of a r t e n f o l d s a l l e x i s t e n c e : Shut, t o o , i n a tower o f words, I mark On t h e h o r i z o n w a l k i n g l i k e t h e t r e e s The wordy shapes o f women. The word i s o l a t e s him, b u t i t i s a l s o a tower o f potency.  It  p e r c e i v e s t h e u n d e r l y i n g a s s o c i a t i o n s between a l l k i n d s o f l i f e and r e a l i z e s i t s l a t e n t powers o f a r t i c u l a t i o n .  I t r e v e a l s the  m y s t e r i e s o f e x i s t e n c e t h a t t h e a r t i s t i s empowered t o e x p r e s s . The  h a u n t i n g f i g u r e o f time e n t e r s now i n the t h i r d  s t a n z a , dogging t h e poet l i k e h i s own shadow: B e h i n d a pot; o f f e r n s , t h e wagging c l o c k T e l l s me t h e hour's word, t h e n e u r a l meaning F l i e s on t h e s h a f t e d d i s k , d e c l a i m s t h e morning And t e l l s t h e windy weather i n t h e c o c k . Man measures time upon h i s n e r v e s ; i t as something i n h i m s e l f .  He i s , t h e r e f o r e , as much a p a r t  of i t as i t i s o f him. The p r e c e d i n g  s t a n z a f o c u s e d upon space;  t h i s one i s c h i e f l y o c c u p i e d w i t h time t i o n s , which t h e c l o c k g i v e s tongue t o . doom, r e m i n d i n g  he e x p e r i e n c e s  i n a l l i t s manifestaT h i s i s the v o i c e of  man o f h i s end. But i t i s t h e poet who can  r e c o r d time's words and t h e converse i s n o t t r u e , i n s o f a r a s time i s t h e s i l e n t s e r v i t o r o f a r t .  I f h i s work i s e n d u r i n g ,  time w i l l bear w i t n e s s t o i t , b u t i t r e q u i r e s him t o i n t e r p r e t time t o i t s e l f . The  f i n a l s t a n z a throws t h e themes he has d e v e l o p e d  i n t o a new p e r s p e c t i v e .  The c o n c l u s i o n i s a t w o f o l d r e s o l u t i o n :  t h i s p a r t i c u l a r a c t o f c r e a t i o n has ' d r a i n e d * the poet and  27. thereby i t s e l f embodies t h e p r o c e s s o f c o m p o s i t i o n I t i s what i t speaks o f ;  i t describes.  i t l i v e s i t s own s u b j e c t .  The end bespeaks u t t e r d e s o l a t i o n : The h e a r t i s d r a i n e d t h a t , s p e l l i n g i n t h e s c u r r y Of chemic b l o o d , warned o f t h e coming f u r y . By t h e sea's s i d e hear t h e d a r k - v o w e l l e d  birds.  He i s now mere m o r t a l man and death c o n f r o n t s him. Y e t , i n his  r o l e o f t h e a r t i s t , he has g i v e n meaning t o t h e human p r e -  dicament, by imposing on i t an a l l - c o n t a i n i n g form. i s a k i n d o f d e a t h , even t h e end of a poem.  Every end  Thus t h e form o f  the poem may be t a k e n as a m i n i a t u r e o f t h e whole p a t t e r n o f existence.  So Thomas d e s c r i b e s h i s a r t , and, i n t h i s p i e c e ,  the a r t a c t s o u t a p a t t e r n o f b i r t h and death i n t h e form o f the poem.  The poet i s s p e a k i n g here not o f a r t as something  t i m e l e s s , but o f t h e p r o c e s s and substance  of c r e a t i o n .  I t i s not o n l y a v e r y b e a u t i f u l poem i n i t s own r i g h t , i t i s a l s o u s e f u l i n h e l p i n g us t o u n d e r s t a n d c a s t o f Thomas's v i s i o n .  the p e c u l i a r  F o r a l l h i s a r t i s t r y i t seems c l e a r  t h a t he had i n t h e b e s t sense a p r i m i t i v e mind, inasmuch as he was a b l e t o p e r c e i v e t h e q u a l i t i e s common t o t h e most w i d e ly d i v e r s i f i e d f a c e t s of l i f e . To complete my a n a l y s i s of t h e f i r s t p e r i o d , I s h a l l t o u c h b r i e f l y on a few l i n e s o f "From l o v e ' s f i r s t f e v e r t o her  plague": And from t h e f i r s t d e c l e n s i o n o f t h e f l e s h I l e a r n t man's tongue, t o t w i s t t h e shapes o f thoughts I n t o t h e stony i d i o m o f t h e b r a i n , To shade and k n i t anew t h e p a t c h o f words L e f t by t h e dead who, i n t h e i r moonless a c r e , Need no word's warmth.  28.  The r o o t of tongues ends i n a spent out. cancer, That but a name, where maggots have t h e i r X. The  s u s t a i n e d m e t a p h o r i c a l i n t e r p l a y between a  and s y m b o l i c use of l i n g u i s t i c t e r m i n o l o g y a g a i n  illustrates  the p o e t ' s c a p a c i t y t o d e s c r i b e l i f e i n terms of a r t and l a t t e r i n terms o f the former, u n i t i n g them by both i n t o o b j e c t s of h i s a r t .  literal  the  translating  F o r , they a r e both elements  t h a t form p a r t of a poem. Once more the s t r u g g l e t o i l l u m i n a t e the appears as h i s c e n t r a l c o n c e r n . his  In t h i s i n s t a n c e , he  expresses  d e v o t i o n t o renewing f o r h i m s e l f the a s s a u l t of h i s dead  p r e d e c e s s o r s upon the dark of u n c r e a t i o n . t a s k i s the same:  F o r each poet the  t o c r e a t e a s h i n i n g image i n a v o i d , l e f t  by the deaths of the g r e a t dead. art  darkness  S i n c e e v e r y a r t i s t i s doomed,  must p e r p e t u a l l y r e c r e a t e i t s w o r l d . We can h a r d l y doubt t h a t , though i n these  earlier  p i e c e s the poet i s c o n t i n u a l l y s e e k i n g t o e x t i r p a t e v a r i o u s k i n d s of d a r k n e s s , he sees the w o r l d and t h e s o u l as e s s e n t i a l l y v o i d and u n l i g h t e d . cause t o attempt  O b v i o u s l y , o t h e r w i s e he would f e e l  no  time and a g a i n t o f i l l and i r r a d i a t e them.  F o r t h i s r e a s o n I have d e s c r i b e d h i s v i s i o n as e x i s t e n t i a l , but I c e r t a i n l y s h o u l d not w i s h t o suggest  t h a t he i s t o be  c o n s i d e r e d a p o e t i c exponent of t h a t p h i l o s o p h y . the term f o r convenience his  I have a p p l i e d  and am w e l l aware t h a t a t no p o i n t of  development does the v i s i o n conform t o any s i n g l e s c h o o l of  thought.  There a r e v e r y few p o e t s who  consistent.  One  seem t o me  philosophically  of the a r t i s t ' s p r i v i l e g e s i s t o be a b l e t o  change h i s mind as o f t e n as he can j u s t i f y h i s i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s artistically.  29. Time, d e a t h , p r o c r e a t i o n and tinually and  i n these  object  modernity  l y r i c s , which are  than with i s their  c a u s e and  order  stance.  i n f l u e n c e of psychology,  detectable,  but  does not  In o r d e r vision, Eliot  we  who  latter and  the  beatific  for  the  former, the  this  But,  material  in  t o the  to  At  focus  than  of  he  a t t i t u d e s are  the  the  but  came i n t o l e r a b l e b e c a u s e he so t r a n s i e n t .  could  the  between t h e for  latter  not,  after  soul  purgatory; only from  all,  so  life  on i t s  came t o v i e w i t sub  specie  i t as a  f o r m e r , compromise was  f o r the  with  might conclude  remained unable to accept For  is  Thomas*s  w h e r e a s f o r Thomas i t r e m a i n e d a b i t t e r  end,  sub-  physics  Time f o r  i s a preparation  sight,, we  Eliot  rather  t h a n t o c o n t r a s t him  since his capacity for v i t a l  be  and  t h o u g h b o t h a p p e a r t o have f o u n d  have b e e n s t r o n g ;  should  life  first  that t h e i r  man's e t e r n i t y .  easier,  particular  i s a m u r d e r e r and  terms i m p o s s i b l e ,  aeternitatis, and,  one  their  work.  obstruction, standing  vision,and  i f denied.  statement  opposed.  better  the  biology  i s i n s o many ways h i s a n t i t h e s i s .  i s above a l l an  tolerable  inhibit  do  mark o f  upon e n e r g y r a t h e r  t o s t r e s s the  could hardly  One  con-  subject  upon d y n a m i c d i a l e c t i c  t h a n upon an The  and  recur  l e s s concerned with  effect.  concentration of b e i n g  parturition  not  link  probably  response appears  latter  joy,  never  human e x i s t e n c e  bear  that  be-  i t s ecstasies  CHAPTER I I PART 2 It  i s impossible  t o exclude from t h i s a n a l y s i s a b r i e f  conspectus of the poet's s t y l i s t i c development. confusion in  and chaos of the darkness he e x p l o r e s  F o r the are r e f l e c t e d  the s t y l e , j u s t as the b r i l l i a n c e and l u c i d i t y he l a t e r  a c q u i r e d m i r r o r the r a d i a n c e  of t h e i r c o n t e n t .  H i s own o b s e r v a t i o n s  on h i s mode o f composition  deserve p r i d e of p l a c e : ... the l i f e i n any poem of mine cannot move c o n c e n t r i c a l l y round a c e n t r a l image; the l i f e must come from the c e n t r e ; an image must be born and d i e i n another and any sequence of my images must be a sequence of c r e a t i o n s , r e c r e a t i o n s , d e s t r u c t i o n s , contradictions. I cannot . . . make a poem out of a s i n g l e m o t i v a t i n g experience . . . Out of the i n e v i t a b l e c o n f l i c t of images - i n e v i t a b l e , because of t h e c r e a t i v e , r e c r e a t i v e , d e s t r u c t i v e and c o n t r a d i c t o r y nature of the m o t i v a t i n g c e n t r e , the womb o f war - I t r y t o make t h a t momentary peace which i s a poem. I do not want a poem o f mine, nor can i t be, a c i r c u l a r p i e c e of experience p l a c e d n e a r l y o u t s i d e the l i v i n g stream of time from which i t came; a poem o f mine i s , or should be, a water t i g h t s e c t i o n o f the stream t h a t i s f l o w i n g a l l ways, a l l w a r r i n g images w i t h i n i t should be r e c o n c i l e d f o r that s m a l l stop of time. I agree that each of ray e a r l i e r poems might appear t o constitute a s e c t i o n from one long poem; t h a t i s because I was not s u c c e s s f u l i n making a momentary peace w i t h my images a t the c o r r e c t moment . . . *9 Report from a p o e t i c b a t t l e f i e l d ? an a r m i s t i c e no sooner signed the poet mean?  Is the c o n c l u s i o n o f a poem  than broken?  What e x a c t l y does  That h i s poems a r e born o f c o n f l i c t and a r e  themselves t u r b u l e n t and that a b r i e f suspension of the c h a i n  r e a c t i o n among the images i s the m i r a c l e which he aims at achieving.  He  t e l l s us h i m s e l f t h a t the s t r u c t u r e of h i s  work i s p a c u l i a r and  i t s harmonies p r e c a r i o u s .  ask f o r a more e x p o s i t o r y comment.  We  could hardly  Then what of the  *water  tight section ?  He r e f e r s t o the q u a l i t y of  e s s e n t i a l t o any  s u c c e s s f u l work of a r t , though i t s dykes  1  self-containment may  be no more than t h e i r p a r t i t i o n e r e c t e d a g a i n s t the stream of l i f e and  of i t s a s s o c i a t i o n s . The  form of h i s p o e t r y , he t e l l s us, i s c e n t r i f u g a l  and not c e n t r i p e t a l .  The  continuous  d i s i n t e g r a t i o n and  r e i n t e g r a t i o n of which he speaks compose the d i a l e c t i c of which we  have spoken.  In a sense every new  metaphor i s an a c t of  d e s t r u c t i o n i n t h a t i t breaks down a b a r r i e r t h a t w i t h h e l d from r e l a t i n g two The so many and  or more aspects of the  us  universe.  d i f f i c u l t y w i t h Thomas's poetry  i s t h a t i t packs  such v a r i e d images i n t o so s m a l l a compass t h a t at  times he appears t o be w r i t i n g r i d d l e s .  U n l i k e t h a t of  Yeats,  but l i k e Shakespeare's, most of h i s symbolism i s e c l e c t i c . an e s o t e r i c i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s r a r e l y a p p r o p r i a t e and w i t h the m a j o r i t y of h i s p i e c e s , we w i t t o guide us.  Thus  i n dealing  have n o t h i n g but our  native  No other modern poet w r i t i n g i n E n g l i s h has  made n e a r l y such an e x t e n s i v e use of the a m b i g u i t i e s and i n which the tongue i s so e s p e c i a l l y  puns  rich.  P a r a d o x i c a l l y , the use of f i s s i o n a r y symbolism accompanies an approach to e x p e r i e n c e a l g e b r a i c formula.  Taking  s  which almost conforms t o an  s m a l l stock of persons and p e r s o n a l i t i e s  32. be c o n c e n t r a t e s c h i e f l y upon the f o r c e s t h a t govern e x i s t e n c e . For i n s t a n c e , i f we  compare "To h i s coy m i s t r e s s " w i t h "Where  once the waters &£ your f a c e , " former  we  f i n d t h a t , w h i l s t i n the  an i n d i v i d u a l woman i s addressed,  i n the l a t t e r  the  a r t i s t e x p l o r e s the k i n d of meaning she h o l d s f o r the subc o n s c i o u s depths of h i s b e i n g . David A i v a z ' s comments on Thomas's i n t e r e s t i n process are worth q u o t i n g , where he says, "Process, the s u b j e c t of v i s i o n , needs man  t o 'happen' t o i t t o g i v e i t life,'®  and  l a t e r , "Process, the c y c l i c a l r e t u r n . , . r e q u i r e s only that 21  the mind and h e a r t evolve an ever f u l l e r r e l a t i o n s h i p " the s t r u g g l e from darkness t o r e v e r s e the statement,  to l i g h t .  with  I should myself p r e f e r  s i n c e as Thomas developed he  succeeded  more and more i n b r e a k i n g f r e e from the c y c l i c a l wheel. i s , i n f a c t , n o r e a l o p p o s i t i o n between process and enlightenment.  Eternity i t s e l f , after a l l ,  r e p r e s e n t as a c i r c l e or sphere.  There  spiritual  i s easiest to  Indeed, i t i s q u i t e p o s s i b l e  t o m a i n t a i n t h a t he d i d not r e j e c t the n o t i o n of p r o c e s s , but simply a m p l i f i e d i t t o the p o i n t of i t s i n c l u s i o n i n a supernatural cycle.  T h i s i s a p o s s i b i l i t y t o which we  shall  later  return. Olson says t h a t Thomas's symbolism f a l l s under t h r e e g e n e r a l headings:  "(1) n a t u r a l ,  (2) c o n v e n t i o n a l and  He c o n t i n u e s , "Metaphor and s i m i l e are based o n l y ; symbols are based  (3) p r i v a t e "  upon resemblance  upon many other r e l a t i o n s " , ^  i ^0  ^  no  33.  a c c e p t h i s view t h a t symbolism i s i n n a t e l y s u p e r i o r to kinds  o f imagery, f o r i t seems t o me  profoundly According  i s p r e f e r a b l e to one who t o Olson,  that a poet who employs symbols  other  uses s i m i l e badly.  "A metaphor . • • i n v o l v e s v e r b a l  sub-  PL.  s t i t u t i o n merely,"  whereas a symbol occurs as a consequence  25' "of a conceptual  substitution." '  The  f i r s t h a l f o f the  ment I s demonstrably inadequate.  To r e p l a c e  l o v e ' represents  substitution.  a form of v e r b a l  'amare' w i t h  In,  'to  Next, I am  a t a l l sure t h a t the term ' s u b s t i t u t i o n ' i s a p p r o p r i a t e k i n d o f imagery.  state-  not  to  any  say:  • . . v i o l e t s dim, But sweeter than the l i d s of.Juno's eyes Or C y t h e r e a ^ b r e a t h . . . ^ b  s i n c e i t Is i m p o s s i b l e s u b s t i t u t e d , I do not such a process has perception  t o i n f e r e x a c t l y what Shakespeare see. t h a t we  occurred.  has  are i n a p o s i t i o n to c l a i m  I f a new  image i s an  instantaneous  o f h i t h e r t o u n r e a l i z e d r e l a t i o n s , the n o t i o n o f r e -  placement does not i n t r u d e on the d i s c o v e r y .  The most s i n g l e  s t r i k i n g f a c t o r i n symbolism, which I take t o i n c l u d e not  simply  i t s v e r b a l forms, but a l s o c e r t a i n p r o p e r t i e s , l i k e the m i l l - r a c e i n Rosmeraholm, precludes  i s the presence o f an i r r a t i o n a l content, which  us from t r a n s l a t i n g the symbol i n t o the r a t i o n a l .  f a c t I should  go  so f a r as to c l a i m t h a t any  image which r e -  s i s t s paraphrase i s symbolic.  I t may  d u c i n g the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t we  can paraphrase some kinds  imagery I am but what I am  be s a i d t h a t i n i n t r o -  a l l o w i n g a k i n d o f replacement.  of  This i s true,  speaking o f does not a f f e c t the i s s u e a t  stake,  In  34.  namely, whether or not s i m i l e and metaphor are the consequence of  s u b s t i t u t i o n , s i n c e I have c o n f i n e d my  to  the r e a d e r ' s response.  own  use of the term  F i n a l l y , there i s the f a c t that i n  l i t e r a t u r e the only e x a c t l y e q u i v a l e n t statements are those which are i d e n t i c a l i n every r e s p e c t . Since Thomas was  deeply concerned w i t h the subconscious  and i r r a t i o n a l areas of l i f e , i t i s not s u r p r i s i n g that the symbolic image preponderates i n much of h i s work.  It also  accounts i n p a r t , f o r the d i s p a r i t y between the immediate impact and r e s i s t a n c e t o r a t i o n a l comprehension his  of many of  poems. He i s most s u c c e s s f u l when a c o - o r d i n a t i n g theme i  controls  the  symbols, as  in these  lines  from  "In' t h e  beginning":  In the beginning was the p a l e s i g n a t u r e , T h r e e - s y l l a b l e d and s t a r r y as the s m i l e ; And a f t e r came the i m p r i n t s on the water, Stamp of the minted f a c e upon the moon; The blood that touched the c r o s s t r e e and the g r a i l Touched the f i r s t c l o u d and l e f t a s i g n . The superb d e l i c a c y a l l i e d t o the simple power of these is astonishing. mystery  T h e i r beauty i s m i r a c u l o u s .  lines  The sense of  and o t h e r w o r l d l i n e s s they c r e a t e r e c a l l s passages i n  R i l k e ' s superb e l e g y Orpheus. E u r y d i c e . Hermes: But there were r o c k s and shadowy f o r e s t s . B r i d g e s over nothing, and that immense, grey, u n r e f l e c t i n g pond t h a t hung above i t s so f a r d i s t a n t bed l i k e a grey r a i n y sky above a landscape^ and between meadows, s o f t and f u l l of p a t i e n c e , appeared the p a l e s t r i p of the s i n g l e pathway l i k e a l o n g l i n e , of l i n e n l a i d t o bleach.27 P i c t o r i a l l y and m u s i c a l l y R i l k e i s profounder and  subtler  than Thomas; even so, when the l a t t e r w r i t e s w i t h such  35.  l i q u i d i n t i m a c y he i s superb.  A t times he r a n t s and a t o t h e r s  r e s e m b l e s a f r i g h t e n e d man s h o u t i n g d e s p e r a t e l y t o be r e l e a s e d from an o u b l i e t t e .  Perhaps w o r s t o f . a l l a r e p l a c e s where he  i s s i m p l y m e r e t r i c i o u s , as i n ; t h e  his  nerves":  following  lines  from  "tyly h e r o  He h o l d s t h e w i r e from t h i s box o f n e r v e s P r a i s i n g the mortal e r r o r Of b i r t h and d e a t h , t h e two s a d knaves o f t h i e v e s , And t h e hunger's emperor; He p u l l s t h e c h a i n , t h e c i s t e r n moves.  This obfuscated  d e s c r i p t i o n of masturbation  seems t o me  v i r t u a l l y p o i n t l e s s . Here t h e symbols s i m p l y do n o t c o a l e s c e . The an unwieldy  f i r s t s t a n z a o f "When l i k e a r u n n i n g g r a v e " i s  concatenation  o f images t h a t move t o a deadened  rhythm, p o o r l y masked by t h e i r g r o t e s q u e b i z a r M r i e . The language s i m p l y r e v o l v e s upon i t s e l f and p o s s e s s e s no antennae t h a t t o u c h our f e e l i n g s o r i n t e l l e c t . always i m p r i s o n e d  Thomas's bad imagery i s  i n a v i c i o u s c i r c l e o f v e r b i a g e and u s u a l l y  a l l i e d t o r h y t h m i c a l lameness. I d i s a g r e e w i t h those who m a i n t a i n t h a t t h e p o e t ' s p r e d i l e c t i o n i n h i s e a r l y poetry f o r the iambic l i n e i s a weakness.  I t was one t h a t c e r t a i n l y Shakespeare made no attempt  t o conquer.  But i t i s t r u e t h a t Thomas t e n d s t o overwork  h i g h l y emphatic i a m b i c rhythms t o t h e p o i n t o f t i r e s o m e insistence.  However, as he developed he overcame h i s h a b i t  of somewhat o v e r w e i g h t i n g  his lines.  I s t r o n g l y disagree w i t h Treece's c o n t e n t i o n : " h i s moods o f l i t e r a r y mlschievousness a l t e r n a t e d w i t h phases o f p o e t i c g r a n d e u r , a s i n "The hand t h a t s i g n e d t h e p a p e r , " so t h a t one b e c a m e . t e m p o r a r i l y r e a s s u r e d , and h o p e f u l l y w a i t e d f o r f u r t h e r manifestations of t h i s magnificent c l a r i t y . And t h a t , i n any s a t i s f y i n g and f i n a l degree, we a r e s t i l l waiting for."28  bares  36.  S i n c e o n l y a few poems appeared a f t e r Tteecels book was p u b l i s h e d , i t i s u n l i k e l y they would have caused him t o r e v i s e t h i s o p i n i o n . As I hope t o show, I t h i n k Thomas e v o l v e d  t o t h e end.  It i s  customary t o say t h a t he developed and d i e d young, but when Shakespeare d i e d he was;only t h i r t e e n y e a r s o l d e r .  Keats,  S h e l l e y and Byron d i e d younger s t i l l and Wordsworth had w r i t t e n h i s best work b e f o r e t h e age o f t h i r t y - n i n e .  CHAPTER I I I THE MIDDLE PERIOD Part 1 The second p e r i o d i s t h e most d i f f i c u l t the  and c o n t a i n s  l a r g e s t number o f poems I n which t h e r e i s no s a t i s f y i n g r e -  integration.  I t i n c l u d e s the p i e c e s p u b l i s h e d i n 25 Poems,  The Map o f Love.  and  L e t i t be c l e a r , however, t h a t I do not con-  s i d e r t h a t w i t h each new volume t h e poet a t t a i n e d a completely new stage o f development. and u n c e r t a i n .  H i s e v o l u t i o n remained  continuous  I n a sense, every new poem r e p r e s e n t s a new  stage i n a poet's expansion, e i t h e r more o r l e s s a c c r o d i n g t o i t s r e l a t i o n t o h i s p r e v i o u s works. Derek S t a n f o r d v i r t u a l l y throws up h i s hands i n d e s p a i r a t 25 Poems,  remarking t h a t , "save f o r one specimen  I s h a l l not t r y t o i n t e r p r e t them." ^ 2  the  piece,  He c o n t i n u e s , " I t i s  powerful e n t r y o f C h r i s t i a n c u r r e n t s o f thought t h a t c r e a t e ^0  new and w a r r i n g elements i n these poems."^ In the e a r l i e r poems o f C h r i s t i a n i n f l u e n c e ;  But t h e r e a r e s i g n s a l s o , the c o n f u s i o n  i n the middle p e r i o d seems t o me t h e r e s u l t o f the i n t e n s i f i e d p r e s s u r e o f many f o r c e s , b e s i d e s r e l i g i o n . As t h e poet's response t o l i f e difficult  grew deeper, he found i t  t o m a i n t a i n t h e precar i o u s harmony t h a t he had a c h i e v e d  i n many o f the e a r l i e s t poems.  I t would appear he had reached  t h a t time when a man, i n s e a r c h o f some a r t i s t i c to  f a i t h i n which  c r y s t a l l i z e h i s v i s i o n , f e e l s the winds o f c o n t r a r i e s b e a t i n g  on h e a r t and b r a i n as he stumbles among wastes o f chaos, f o r the  most p a r t l o s t i n darkness but o c c a s i o n a l l y l i t up.  38. Though as a whole I agree w i t h W.S.  Merwin's approach,  I t h i n k , i n p r e s e n t i n g h i s work as a more or l e s s  continuous  movement towards f u l f i l m e n t i n a r e l i g i o u s v i s i o n , he  under-  estimates i t s n e g a t i v e a s p e c t s and i t s sheer e l e c t r i c b l a c k n e s s . Moreover, though much o f the p o e t r y i s d e e p l y r e l i g i o u s , i t s spirit  i s secular.  U n l i k e Donne, who  In s h o r t , Thomas never threw over the w o r l d . t r i e d and f a i l e d ,  Some o f the difficult  I doubt i f he ever wished t o .  p i e c e s i n t h i s middle p e r i o d are v e r y  and I do nop. understand them c l e a r l y .  My attempts t o  e l u c i d a t e them, t h e r e f o r e , are i n many i n s t a n c e s extremely tentative. Of the f i r s t Image"  t h r e e stanzas o f " I , i n my  intricate  S t a n f o r d observes, "heaven may understand him,  I do n o t . "  But I r e f u s e t o d i s m i s s the work o f so c a r e f u l a craftsman as Thomas as a p u z z l e i n a l g e b r a i c  symbolism.  The opening l i n e embodies the main theme: and complex: p e r s p e c t i v e s which the poet's own him.  the numerous  image suggests t o  The poem e x p l o r e s not o n l y the c o m p l e x i t i e s o f human nature  but o f man  regarding himself. My h a l f ghost i n armour h o l d s hard i n death's To my man-Iron s i d l e . • .  corridor,  recalls And  c a s t a shadow c r a b upon the l a n d .  The g r e a t e r involvement o f the f i r s t two l i n e s i n d i c a t e s the growth o f the poet*s sense o f man's i n t r i c a t e n a t u r e .  In h i s  g l o s s a r y o f Thomas's more c r y p t i c terms, Olson says t h a t  39.  'man-iron  s i d l e ' r e f e r s t o "the s i d l i n g walk of one, hand-  c u f f e d or o t h e r w i s e bound t o another i n man-irons.  Here  32  used of the hero as so bound t o h i s 'ghost'."  Body and  soul  a r e two h a l v e s e x i s t i n g i n d o u b t f u l a l l i a n c e . 'Metal phantom' i s an image of images.  The  poet,  u s i n g a l c h e m i c a l terms, s u g g e s t s t h a t he i s an image r e f l e c t i n g and u n i t i n g o t h e r images.  A g a i n he a t t e s t s the  c o m p l e x i t y of human n a t u r e , so l a r g e l y composed o f o p p o s i t e s . Out o f them r a d i a t e the ' t w i n m i r a c l e ' , w h i c h r e f e r s t o the m i r a c u l o u s c o n j u n c t i o n of man's two h a l v e s ; 'the dead n u i s a n c e ' , hereditary g u i l t ; and  'manhood of e n d i n g ' , h i s p h y s i c a l t r a n s i e n c e  'sea-blown a r r i v a l ' , h i s passage a c r o s s the w a t e r s of qq  death.  Here i s 'the womb o f war",  where a f u r i o u s foment  of symbols t a k e s p l a c e . In the second s e c t i o n he d e s c r i b e s how h i s images r a n g over e x i s t e n c e u n t i l they r e a c h a check-mate i n "The world stands s t i l l . "  circular  P h y s i c a l l i f e i s a r e c o r d , whose needle  has now r e a c h e d the inmost groove.  I t might almost be s a i d  t o c o - i n c i d e w i t h i t s h a v i n g a t t a i n e d the inmost h e a r t of t r u t h , as i f a t death man  came home t o h i m s e l f .  The t h i r d p a r t t a k e s us i n t o the l a n d of d e a t h , And, as f o r o i l s and oMiraents on the f l y i n g g r a i l , A l l - h o l l o w e d man wept f o r h i s w h i t e a p p a r e l . ' F l y i n g g r a i l ' r e f e r s t o the s p i r i t ' s r e l e a s e from the laws of g r a v i t y , but i t s t i l l mourns f o r the f l e s h , as i f time were r e q u i r e d t o wean i t from t h i s w o r l d .  40. The  f i r s t s e c t i o n d e s c r i b e d t h e c o m p l e x i t i e s o f man's  d i v i d e d image; t h e second a d d r e s s e d i t s e l f t o t h e p h y s i c a l a s p e c t s o f h i s n a t u r e ; t h e t h i r d t o h i s g h o s t l y h a l f and now a t i t s c o n c l u s i o n i t u n i t e s them. And my images r o a r e d and r o s e on heaven's h i l l  . . .  i s a p r o j e c t i o n t h r o u g h which t h e poet assumes a r e t r o s p e c t i v e standpoint  from w h i c h he c o n t e m p l a t e s h i s human and p o e t i c  images a s c e n d i n g towards God. The  poet has here undertaken a d i v e r s e e x p l o r a t i o n  of h i s human image i n t h e imagery o f h i s a r t . a l l a r e one, f o r t o g e t h e r  I n a sense  they compose h i s t o t a l  existence  as man, seen from w i t h i n and o u t s i d e time and space.  He  has chosen h i s theme i n Man be my metaphor. Thus, i n a sense, he i s engaged i n a n a l y s i n g t h e c o n s t i t u e n t s of h i s v i s i o n .  He does n o t e n t i r e l y s u c c e e d , f o r t h e c o n c e n t r a t e d  d i v e r s i t y o f t h e symbols r e n d e r s c o a l e s c e n c e impossible.  virtually  However, though t h e v a r i e t y o f p e r s p e c t i v e s  r e s u l t s i n c o n f u s i o n , i t does n o t amount s i m p l y t o nonsense. We may take t h i s p i e c e as a p r o l o g u e t o t h e c o m p l e x i t i e s w h i c h adhere t o t h e ' i n t r i c a t e image' o f t h e m i d d l e p e r i o d . Though i t i s hard t o e s t i m a t e  t o what e x t e n t Thomas's  symbology i m p l i e s p h i l o s o p h i c a l commitment and perhaps w i s e r t o r e g a r d t h e q u a s i - p h i l o s o p h i c a l p a t t e r n s t h a t merge from h i s works r a t h e r as t h e p r o d u c t s o f h i s symbolism t h a n i t s p r o g e n i t o r s , " T h i s bread I b r e a k " explicitly Christian.  seems t o me as a whole  41.  I t i s a superb l i t t l e l y r i c ,  i t s last line magnifi-  c i e n t l y timed t o i n t r o d u c e a new d i m e n s i o n ,  with:  My wine you d r i n k , my bread you snap. The wine and c o r n speak w i t h C h r i s t ' s v o i c e .  Here t h e r e i s  p r e s e n t i n g e r m i n a l form t h e poet's i n c r e a s i n g awareness o f the s a n c t i t y o f n a t u r e , as he d e s c r i b e s how, when we e a t and d r i n k t h e body and b l o o d o f e a r t h , we a r e e a t i n g and d r i n k i n g o f God. I t i s t h e f i r s t p i e c e , I b e l i e v e , where he r e c o r d s o b j e c t i v e l y , t r e a t i n g h i m s e l f as an o b j e c t among many o t h e r s . I t i s i m p o r t a n t t o r e c o g n i s e t h a t t h e d i f f e r e n c e between o b j e c t i v e and s u b j e c t i v e p o e t r y does not depend on whether o r not t h e a u t h o r e n t e r s i n t o t h e work, but s i m p l y on h i s a t t i t u d e towards h i s c o m p o s i t i o n .  Those w h i c h seem t o draw  t h e i r l i f e from a p e r s o n a l i t y may be accounted s u b j e c t i v e ; but when we f e e l t h e poet i s s i m p l y a medium they may then be considered o b j e c t i v e . "Incarnate d e v i l " beginning",  o f f e r s us a s e q u e l t o " I n t h e  c o n t i n u i n g t h e s t o r y o f G e n e s i s from t h e i d y l l o f  Eden u n t i l the F a l l .  To Thomas t h e age o f p e r f e c t i o n p r e d a t e d  b o t h good and e v i l , w h i c h came i n t o b e i n g a s a r e s u l t o f t h e angelic defection.  They a r e both a consequence and r e s u l t o f  c h o i c e and p r e c l u d e t h e u n i t y w h i c h t r a n s c e n d s them. We i n our Eden knew t h e s e c r e t g u a r d i a n . . . s u g g e s t s t h a t , though our g e n e s i s stems from Adam, we o u r s e l v e s p a r t i c i p a t e i n the F a l l .  Thus each man r e l i v e s t h e o r i g i n a l  doom l a i d  In the l a t e r poetry the n o t i o n that  upon t h e r a c e .  c r e a t i o n repeats or c o n t i n u a l l y recreates i t s primal p a t t e r n  42.  receives f u l l e r treatment. A t t h i s time t h e p o e t ' s a t t i t u d e towards  God,  who now e n t e r s more f r e q u e n t l y i n t o h i s works, was a m b i v a l e n t . Here he i s q u i t e d e f i n i t e l y d i s p l a y e d i n an u n f l a t t e r i n g light: And God walked t h e r e who was a f i d d l i n g warden. And p l a y e d down pardon from t h e heavens' h i l l . 'Warden' s u g g e s t s a p r i s o n - g a o l o r , b u t ' f i d d l i n g ' i s ambiguous. I t i s an a l l u s i o n t o Nero, who  f i d d l e d w h i l e Rome burned, but  i t a l s o d e s c r i b e s t h e A l m i g h t y as a meddlesome busy-body, who o f f e r e d man pardon f o r t h e F a l l t h a t he h i m s e l f had c o n n i v e d at,  t h r o u g h h i s n e g l i g e n t p r o t e c t i o n o f t h e human p a i r .  If  man i s h i s b r o t h e r ' s k e e p e r , t h e n how much g r e a t e r d i v i n e responsibility!  But t h e poet goes even f u r t h e r , f o r he  i m p l i e s t h a t , s i n c e man i n Eden d i d n o t e n j o y a b s o l u t e l i b e r t y , he was a p r i s o n e r . much l i k e i t .  I s t h i s Job's q u e s t i o n ?  I f n o t , t h e n one  Man does n o t seem much more here t h a n a pawn  i n a s u p e r n a t u r a l chess-match. W i t h t h e F a l l a l l t h e c o n t r a r i e s came i n t o b e i n g : And when t h e moon r o s e w i n d i l y i t was B l a c k as t h e b e a s t and p a l e r than t h e c r o s s . A l l n a t u r e s u f f e r e d t h e consequent  dichotomy, and t h e moon took  on an i n f e r n a l and b e s t i a l d a r k , but a l s o t h e w h i t e n e s s o f t h e agonized face of the c r u c i f i e d C h r i s t . are  B l a c k and w h i t e i n d e e d  not c o l o r s ; they a r e t h e c o n d i t i o n o f t h e f a l l e n w o r l d .  The poet i s s t r u g g l i n g w i t h t h e problems o f p a i n , s i n and death and i s b e g i n n i n g t o a c q u i r e t h e Promethean s p i r i t which l a t e r he was t o e x p r e s s w i t h an a g o n i z e d m a g n i f i c e n c e , above a l l i n "Do not go g e n t l e i n t o t h a t good n i g h t . "  He i s moving  43. away from the w o r l d of v e g e t a b l e and a n i m a l p r o c e s s  towards  s p e c i f i c a l l y human i s s u e s . " S h a l l gods be s a i d t o thump the c l o u d s " answers the q u e s t i o n of God's e x i s t e n c e .  r a i s e s and  He says t h a t , i f we  can reduce s u p e r n a t u r a l phenomena t o the i k o n s through w h i c h  man  w o r s h i p s them, t h e n Let  the s t o n e s speak  W i t h tongues t h a t t a l k a l l  tongues.  Thus, however much we seek t o l e v e l the gods, they s h a l l proclaim t h e i r being.  still  Though we w h i t t l e them down t o mere s t o n e ,  these stones s h a l l a t t e s t d i v i n e e x i s t e n c e . M e t a p h y s i c a l l y the s t r u c t u r e of t h i s l y r i c i s p a r t i c u l a r l y neat.  The poet appears t o g i v e way  t o the a r g u e -  ments o f n e g a t i o n u n t i l the end, when s u d d e n l y he uses them t o d i s c r e d i t the d e n i a l .  Of c o u r s e , i t i s l i k e l y  t h a t he i s him-  s e l f on both sides o f the q u e s t i o n and t h a t t h e s o l u t i o n r e s o l v e s an i n t e r n a l dilemma.  He i s engaged a t t h i s p o i n t i n f a c i n g  some o f the g r e a t q u e s t i o n s w i t h which Hardy went on w r e s t l i n g u n t i l h i s end. of  Thomas u s u a l l y s e t t l e s them w i t h a b l i n d l e a p  f a i t h i n t o the dark. In  "Why  i n s o l u b l e paradox: we may  e a s t wind c h i l l s " he poses and a c c e p t s an t h a t however much knowledge and e x p e r i e n c e  a c q u i r e , the p r o f o u n d e s t q u e s t i o n s o f a l l w i l l c o n t i n u e  t o b a f f l e us. The f i r s t s t a n z a d e p i c t s the i n s c r u t a b i l i t y of  life.  F o r the i g n o r a n c e of the c h i l d w i l l r e c e i v e no e n l i g h t e n m e n t t h r o u g h age. F u n d a m e n t a l l y , we remain c h i l d r e n . The next d e s c r i b e s the p r o v e r b i a l i n s i s t e n c e of  44  c h i l d r e n upon always a s k i n g 'Why?*  But i t p r o c e e d s :  Not t i l l , from h i g h and l o w , t h e i r dust S p r i n k l e s i n c h i l d r e n ' s eyes a l o n g - l a s t s l e e p And dusk i s crowded w i t h t h e c h i l d r e n ' s g h o s t s , S h a l l a w h i t e answer: eeho; from t h e r o o f t o p s . We c o n t i n u e t o ask t h e same q u e s t i o n s , though we make no advance i n a n s w e r i n g them.  Only d e a t h c a n r e s o l v e them, when  the q u e s t i o n we ask s h a l l i t s e l f p r o v i d e t h e r e s p o n s e we have sought.  I t s echo s h a l l e n l i g h t e n u s .  I t i s necessary, the  poet t e l l s u s , t o e n t e r t h e n i g h t o f d e a t h t h a t we may see t h a t t h e q u e s t i o n c o n t a i n s i t s own r e p l y . In t h e next s t a n z a he appears t o r e v e r s e h i s p o s i t i o n , when he s a y s ' A l l t h i n g s a r e known.'  I n a sense t h i s i s t r u e ,  f o r we do know e v e r y t h i n g and n o t h i n g - something o f e v e r y t h i n g , but no t r u t h e n t i r e l y . J u s t as grown-up people hush c h i l d r e n who ask i n s o l u b l e q u e s t i o n s l i f e t e l l s u s , 'Be c o n t e n t '  ( t o be i g n o r a n t )  and t h e poet ends by i d e n t i f y i n g h i m s e l f w i t h t h e c h i l d r e n ' s bewilderment, w h i c h i s no g r e a t e r t h a n h i s own. Three p e r c e p t i b l e p e r s p e c t i v e s i l l u m i n a t e a s i n g l e c o n c e p t ; f i r s t he p r e s e n t s man as c h i l d ; t h e n c o n t r a s t s men w i t h c h i l d r e n and then r e a c h e s t h e c o n c l u s i o n t h a t t h e r e i s no fundamental d i f f e r e n c e between them. answer.  That i s i n i t s e l f , t h e  H i s t e c h n i q u e r e s e m b l e s symphonic music and p a i n t i n g ;  the former i n h i s e l a b o r a t i o n o f a theme, w h i c h he u n i t e s w i t h the i n t e r v e n i n g movements i n t o a c o n c l u d i n g harmony w h i c h transforms  and r e s o l v e s i t s a n t e c e d e n t d i s c o r d s and v a r i a t i o n s ;  the l a t t e r i n t h e e f f e c t he a c h i e v e s o f a chiaroscuro, h i g h l i g h t i n g h i s s u b j e c t s w i t h much s k i l l .  often  45 I d i s a g r e e w i t h S t a n f o r d , who  d e s c r i b e s the poem as  an " a g n o s t i c ' s c o n f e s s i o n . . . r e a l l y a"homage t o the p r o f u n d i t y 34 of e x i s t e n c e , "  for this lyric  i s not concerned w i t h  the  e x i s t e n c e of God,  but the problem of man's i n c a p a c i t y w h i l s t  he i s y e t a l i v e , t o e n t e r i n t o super-human s p e c u l a t i o n s . the end  From  i t seems c l e a r t h a t death w i l l allow him t o answer h i s  questions. The  degree of p h i l o s o p h i c a l s p e c u l a t i o n i n Thomas's  poetry seems t o me  underrated.  He  i s not o n l y the poet of  and e l e g y ; he i s a l s o at perplexed and e n q u i r i n g r e s t l e s s l y probing the metaphysical  universe.  ode  intellect, Some c r i t i c s  have even charged him w i t h moral i n s e n s i t i v i t y , but i n doing so a l l they have r e v e a l e d i s the g n a r l e d b l a c k hand of P u r i t a n i s m momentarily withdrawn from the a n t i s e p t i c  i  glove of ' i n -  c r i t i c i s m ' , a d e t e s t a b l e d e s c r i p t i o n of c l o s e e l u c i d a t i o n , s i n c e i t appears t o equate i t s p r a c t i t i o n e r w i t h the most u n s k i l l e d s o r t of boxer, presumably u s i n g h i s author as a punch-bag.  In c h a r i t y , i t might be urged t h a t i t s opponents,  i n d e p l o r i n g those of t h i s s c h o o l who a f o r m l e s s and mindless  demand of modern a r t  b r u t a l i t y , have s h o r t - s i g h t e d l y  r e j e c t e d the best w i t h i t s worst exponents.  The more h y s t e r i c a l  q u a r t e r s have h a i l e d Thomas as the great D i o n y s i a c bard, i f he were a L a u r e n t i a n a p o c a l y p t i c goat. much tenderness  and bawdry i n him  as  But there i s too  t o t u r n him  i n t o a champion  of the dark gods. "Ears i n the t u r r e t s hear" which the poet's r e l a t i o n t o the world  e x p l o r e s the dilemma i n i n v o l v e s him.  It deals  w i t h the problem of the i n d i v i d u a l ' s p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n e x i s t e n c e .  46.  In  the f i r s t v e r s e he p r e s e n t s h i m s e l f as a house, i n the  second and t h i r d as an i s l a n d , w h i l s t i n the t h i r d and f o u r t h he u n i t e s them. The contact.  o u t s i d e w o r l d comes t o him, w i s h i n g t o e s t a b l i s h  He debates as t o whether o r not he s h a l l p e r m i t i t t o  t r a f f i c with his •island'.  B e f o r e he d e c i d e s , however, he  w i s h e s t o know: Hands o f the s t r a n g e r and h o l d s o f the s h i p s , H o l d you p o i s o n or g r a p e s ? W i l l l i f e d e s t r o y or e n r i c h h i s being?  O b v i o u s l y and  ironically  the event a l o n e can d e c i d e the i s s u e , f o r o n l y by e n t e r i n g i n t o l i f e can we determine what i t w i l l b r i n g us.  Aware o f i t s  r i s k s the poet i s l e f t unable t o make up h i s mind t o accept r e j e c t them.  or  To r e f u s e communication w i t h the w o r l d and ceny  the commerce of l i v i n g p r o v i d e s a k i n d of r e f u g e .  At  moment of our b e i n g the q u e s t i o n i s always b e f o r e us.  every Life i s  c o n s t a n t l y imposing c h o i c e s upon us.  Donne, as we know w e l l ,  declared against s e l f - i n c a r c e r a t i o n .  R i l k e advocated i t f o r  h i m s e l f , i n o r d e r t o generate inspiration.  the utmost i n t e n s i t y of p o e t i c  Here Thomas o f f e r s no c o n c l u s i o n , save t h a t the  f e a r of l i f e , t u g g i n g him between w i t h d r a w a l and e x p o s u r e , i s l e f t a t the end and t h e r e f o r e permanently. In  d i s c u s s i n g the whole q u e s t i o n of an a r t i s t ' s  self-  a b s o r p t i o n Treece c i t e s E l i o t : The p r o g r e s s of an a r t i s t i s a c o n t i n u a l s e l f s a c r i f i c e , a c o n t i n u a l e x t i n c t i o n of p e r s o n a l i t y . . . P o e t r y i s not a t u r n i n g l o o s e of emotion, but an escape from emotion; i t i s not the e x p r e s s i o n of p e r s o n a l i t y , but an escape from p e r s o n a l i t y . ^ He goes on h i m s e l f t o say of Thomas:  The w r i t e r seems to have grown i n t o h i s poems, or the poems t o have grown round the w r i t e r , so t h a t he i s unable Or u n w i l l i n g f o r the most p a r t , t o abnegate h i s p e r s o n a l i t y , t o d i v o r c e h i m s e l f from h i s work, and, stepping back, to e x p l a i n as i m p e r s o n a l l y as p o s s i b l e , and having regard t o the o p i n i o n s and experiences o f h i s r e a d e r s , what he i s w r i t i n g about. Treece c i t e s E l i o t w i t h the a i r o f a B i b l i c a l  literalist  j u s t i f y i n g h i s p e d a n t r i e s from the t e x t , but the statements o f e i t h e r seem to me remarks t h i s one  questionable.  L i k e so many o f E l i o t ' s  i s c l e a r l y based on h i s p e r s o n a l  experience.  He makes the mistake o f p r e s e n t i n g i t as a papal B u l l . it  c o n t a i n s a c o n t r a d i c t i o n : t o e x t i n g u i s h and  p e r s o n a l i t y are incompatible. behind;  critical  Besides,  escape from the  In e s c a p i n g we l e a v e something  t h e r e must be something from which and t o which we  I f t h e former happens t o be our p e r s o n a l i t y we may w i l l pursue and overtake us.  pass.  be sure i t  S e l f - e x t i n c t i o n , the aim above a l l ,  o f the O r i e n t a l a s c e t i c s c o n s i s t s o f t r a n s c e n d i n g o n e s e l f , and i s based upon the a b i l i t y t o a t t a i n an a b s o l u t e l y o b j e c t i v e s e l f e v a l u a t i o n i n r e l a t i o n t o a u n i v e r s e at the h e a r t o f which l i e s God.  Furthermore, whereas good a r t must t r a n s f o r m a c t u a l i n t o  a r t i s t i c emotion, i t cannot be s a i d to escape i t , so, i t would be u t t e r l y p a s s i o n l e s s . example o f an a r t i s t who  f o r , were t h i s  R i l k e p r o v i d e s a good  attempted c o n t i n u a l l y t o transcend  him-  s e l f by u s i n g h i s being as a pressure chamber from which i n s p i r a t i o n erupted spontaneously  into a r t .  We might say t h a t he used  h i m s e l f to e x p l o r e h i s p o e t i c e n e r g i e s .  Self-escape i s i n e v i t a b l y  m i r r o r e d by a r t which, i f i t be i n the l e a s t o r i g i n a l , must express  the  48. creator's personality. excellence  o f a w r i t e r who  h i s weaknesses simply a work t r a n s c e n d s objectivity  draws o u r  the p e r s o n a l i t y  instruments  as they  develop  charge,  o d d l y enough d o e s n o t upon h i s f a i l u r e  there  the  probably  more  support,  other.  be  from  fault,  he,  thereby  those  imply  There i s own  I s u p p o s e he may  a preponderance  Treece,  its  refer that  i n them o f  somewhat  but  to  this private  uncomfortable  to understand  Thomas i s  i m p l y i n g t h a t were h i s  w o u l d a s s u r e d l y comprehend  c r i t i c s who  d e c l a r e t h a t what  them. they  l a n t e r n s s h i n e " deals w i t h exposure  and  I t d e p i c t s t h e p e n a l t i e s o f human a w a r e n e s s . The  first  most  mud.  "Should  beauty  The  himself to h i s audience.  i s p l a c e d i n the  I deplore  fathom i s  choice.  of  become more and  u n l e s s the p o e t r y  i s no  latter*s  works i n t e l l i g i b l e  cannot  further  self-escape reflect  d e n s i t y o f many o f t h e poems and  I f s o he  Personally,  and  repressions.  p o s i t i o n of c l a i m i n g that h i s f a i l u r e entirely  The  the g r e a t e r the degree  which invokes E l i o t ' s  to j u s t i f y  characteristic results meanings.  t o them.  from  seem t o f o c u s upon Thomas's p o e t r y ,  answer t o t h i s :  the c r y p t i c  par  of t h e i r c r e a t i o n s .  Treece's  justification,  the case  to hide himself  attention  p e r s o n a l d e f e c t s and  s u c c e s s f u l poets  a simple  i n attempting  possible to i t ; s e l f - d i s p l a y  the a r t i s t ' s  the  Hemingway seems t o me  first  that exists  s t a n z a unmasks t h e mummified i n the h e a r t of youth.  because i t i s based  f a c t s of nature,  second  image o f  I t i s mummified,  upon an O e d i p a l d i s t o r t i o n  because  i t has  of  no r e a l e x i s t e n c e  the and  49. t h i r d because an i n c r e a s e d awareness exposes i t as an embalmed corpse.  The l i g h t of t r u t h i s t e r r i b l e i n d e e d i n i t s r u t h l e s s  d i s c l o s u r e of the f r a u d s t h a t darkness may  p r a c t i s e on the  mind, f o r c i n g us t o r e j e c t the a f f a b l e d e l u s i o n s we have cherished there. The r e c o g n i t i o n of t r u t h imposes a c h o i c e .  It  p r e c l u d e s us from p r o l o n g i n g the i n d e c i s i o n s of unawareness and s e t s the head, h e a r t and p u l s e , or i n t e l l e c t , emotion i n s t i n c t a t odds.  and  We a r e f o r c e d t o t r y feQi r e c o n c i l e them.  Time r e - a p p e a r s , now as a s i l e n t and e v e r - p r e s e n t male sacophagus.  The speed of the p o e t ' s p r o g r e s s seems t o  d e f y t i m e , but t h i s an i l l u s i o n , , s i n c e movement i t s e l f i s temporal. The c o n c l u d i n g l i n e s : The b a l l I threw w h i l e p l a y i n g i n the p a r k Has not y e t r e a c h the ground . . . i n t r o d u c e s the concept of r e l a t i v i t y , t h r o u g h w h i c h he seeks t o r e c o n c i l e the v a r i o u s c o n f l i c t s he has posed.  Any moment  may e x i s t e t e r n a l l y , t h u s time i s i t s e l f t h e a r c h - d e l u s i o n . The r e l a t i o n o f s u b j e c t t o o b j e c t a l o n e d e t e r m i n e s t h e i r r e l a t i o n t o each o t h e r and the e x i s t i n g o r d e r .  Thus, j u s t as  the t e n s e s r e s o l v e themselves i n t o a m a t h e m a t i c a l i l l u s i o n , the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of c h o i c e a r e a r b i t r a r y .  so  However, t h i s  r e s u l t s , not i n chaos, but i n a v i s i o n of e t e r n i t y  consuming  the t e m p o r a l w o r l d . Undoubtedly the poet c o n s c i o u s l y drew upon H o p k i n s ' l i m p i d l y r i c f o r " I have l o n g e d t o move away",  but whereas  the e a r l i e r poem s u r r e n d e r s t o e t e r n i t y , the l a t e r e x p r e s s e s  50  a d e s i r e t o outgrow c e r t a i n f o s s i l i s e d p e r s o n a l a t t r i b u t e s and b e l i e f s and t o break f r e e from the c h a i n s of d a r k n e s s : I have longed t o move away From the h i s s i n g of the spent l i e And the o l d t e r r o r s ' c o n t i n u a l c r y Growing more t e r r i b l e as the day Goes over the h i l l i n t o the deep sea . . . " h i s s i n g " s u g g e s t s the d e v i l i s h snake of C h r i s t i a n myth, or the c r o c o d i l e god,  but a l s o perhaps the r a n c o r o u s m a l i c e  of  the r e l i g i o s e , concerned w i t h the empty husk of r e l i g i o n . The  o l d t e r r o r s are the a t a v i s t i c monsters t h a t p r o w l the  s u b c o n s c i o u s and w h i c h s p i r i t u a l e v o l u t i o n a t t e m p t s t o c a s t off.  "Salutes"  embodies a l l the pomp of p a r a d e s :  e x h i b i t i o n s or a s s e r t i o n s of b l i n d power. recognizes  public  But the poet  t h a t a l l t h e s e are elements of h i m s e l f and  l i b e r a t i o n i s self-conquest.  that  I t i s not enough t o r e j e c t  i r r a t i o n a l f e a r s on the c o n s c i o u s  l e v e l a l o n e ; f o r mere  r e p r e s s i o n e x a c t s a t e r r i b l e revenge. The ing  solution i s oblique.  Thomas a c c e p t s  the  continu-  power i n h i m s e l f of b l i n d f e a r s , but t e l l s us he need not  succumb t o them.  In f a c t , by a c c e p t i n g t h e i r p r e s e n c e , he i s  a b l e t o f r e e h i m s e l f from them a t l e a s t p a r t i a l l y , s i n c e what we  i n c o r p o r a t e i n t o our b e i n g f a l l s under our government. By these I would not c a r e t o d i e , H a l f c o n v e n t i o n and h a l f l i e . . .  i s d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t the s h e l l of r e l i g i o n and a l l the l o y a l t i e s t o w h i c h we adhere through u n r e f l e x i o n . reminded of a remark make d u r i n g the l a s t w o r l d war St.  Exupery, t o the e f f e c t t h a t we were f i g h t i n g a  inbred  I am by quarter  51  t r u t h i n the name of a h a l f l i e .  O b v i o u s l y he does not mean  t h a t the N a z i d o c t r i n e s were i n any sense a d m i r a b l e , but s i m p l y t h a t a v e r y l a r g e number who  f o u g h t had a s m a l l , o r a  m i s g u i d e d , n o t i o n of what they s t o o d f o r . "And d e a t h s h a l l have no d o m i n i o n "  i s a triumphant  t r i b u t e t o the a f t e r - l i f e ' s v i c t o r y over t h i s one.  It recalls 37  s  Donne's sonnet, "At the round e a r t h ' s i m a g i n ' d c o r n e r s blow", which a l s o m a g n i f i c e n t l y r e j e c t s the f a l l e n w o r l d ' s d e f e a t s . Thomas's poem i s l i k e a g r e a t fugue, s t r o n g and r i c h i n i t s elaborations. Death s h a l l r e s t o r e what l i f e has robbed i t s v i c t i m s of: When t h e i r bones a r e p i c k e d clean and the cleanbones gone, They s h a l l have s t a r s a t elbow and f o o t ; Though they go mad they s h a l l be sane, Though l o v e r s be l o s t l o v e s h a l l n o t ; And d e a t h s h a l l have no dominion. Nothing i s l o s t i n t h i s v i s i o n ,  though e v e r y t h i n g i s changed  as l i f e s h a l l c o n t i n u e t o a s s e r t i t s supremacy over i t s own d e s t r u c t i v e components u n t i l 'the sun b r e a k s down',  until,  t h a t i s , time ends. In both senses t h i s i s an o b j e c t i v e p i e c e , where the poet becomes a m e d i a t o r between h i s i n s p i r a t i o n word.  and the w r i t t e n  I t p r o c l a i m s a c e r t i t u d e w h i c h he d i d not s u s t a i n , but  w h i c h he t r i e d a g a i n and a g a i n t o a c h i e v e .  Furthermore, i t  p o s s e s s e s the l u c i d i t y w h i c h denotes a f i n a l q u a l i t y i n the vision  itself. In c o n t r a s t " a l t a r w i s e by o w l - l i g h t "  o b s c u r e s t sonnet sequences  i n the language.  i s one of the  E l d e r O l s o n has  52. g i v e n a b r i l l i a n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of i t i n w h i c h he p o s i t s a t l e a s t s i x d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e l e v e l s , which the poet i n t r i c a t e l y i n t e r - r e l a t e s : (1) a l e v e l based on the analogy of human l i f e t o the span of a y e a r .... (2) a l e v e l based on an analogy between the sun and man . . . . (3) a l e v e l of Thomas's ' p r i v a t e * symbolism; (4) a l e v e l based on a n c i e n t myth .... (5) a l e v e l based on the r e l a t i o n s of the c o n s t e 1 l a t i o n H e r c u l e s t o o t h e r c o n s t e l l a t i o n s and a s t r o n o m i c a l phenomena; and (6) a l e v e l d e r i v e d , f r o m the C h r i s t i a n i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of l e v e l s 4 and 5. s  He c o n t i n u e s , I n Sonnet I . . . the t r u e f a i t h , b i t t e r as i t i s , i s i n death; nothing e l s e i s r e a l . . .Everything i s a metaphor f o r d e a t h . . . .The v e r y l a d d e r of a s c e n t i s made o f the bones o f d e a t h , and l e a d s down t o death i n the end. I n Sonnet I I I . . . a y e a r i s s h o r t ; when i t i s n e a r l y spent t h e r e i s s m a l l comfort i n r e f l e c t i n g t h a t our autumn i s another s p r i n g . . . a l l must d i e . I n Sonnet IV. . . once he had p l a g u e d h i s f a i t h w i t h q u e s t i o n s , p l a y e d the s o p h i s t w i t h i t , f o r a t t h a t time he had f e l t s e c u r e i n h i s f a i t h . . • . Now he s e e s . • . .^9the motion and a s p e c t of the s t a r s as something  sinister.  In Sonnet V he imagines the s u n - H e r c u l e s n a r r a t i v e as c o n t i n u i n g from the autumnal e q u i n o x ; i t i s a nightmare . . . . L i f e i s no more t h a n a nightmare dream o f d e a t h . I n Sonnet VI man and sun a r e d i s c o v e r e d t o be l i k e b u r n i n g c a n d l e s . Man i s wounded w i t h the b i r t h - w o u n d ; time w i l l see t h a t he b l e e d s t o death of t h a t wound. I n Sonnet V I I the h e r o of the poem spurns time . . .he p i n s h i s f a i t h i n the heavens. . . . I n Sonnet V I I I the C r o s s s e t s ; t h i s i s the C r u c i f i x i o n , t h e n , b o t h of C h r i s t and of man; he must d i e , l i k e C h r i s t , t o n o u r i s h those who come a f t e r . . . . In Sonnet IX he t h i n k s of the most n o t a b l e human e f f o r t t o w i t h s t a n d d e a t h : E g y p t i a n embalmment . . . he spurns i t ; l e t him be entombed w i t h the dead i n a w o r l d of d e a t h . I n Sonnet X the reappearance of the C r o s s s i g n a l i z e s the R e s u r r e c t i o n t o come. . . . L e t time have i t s way, t h e n ... u n t i l the Day t h a t w i l l never end, when a l l w i l l be restored.'* 0  Thus he goes on, we have two  'voyages',  r e a l o r f a n c i e d : the C h r i s t l e s s  53. one. . . and the C h r i s t i a n one. . . the sonnets a r e the a p o c a l y p s e of the heavens."-* O l s o n r e v e a l s how  Thomas t r a c e s the growth of  three  c y c l e s - one n a t u r a l , one pagan, one C h r i s t i a n , f u s i n g them i n the c r u c i f i x i o n w i t h the s e t t i n g of the c o n s t e l l a t i o n of cross.  The  the  poet h i m s e l f p a r t i c i p a t e s i n t h e a c t i o n ; t h u s , i t s  development r e f l e c t s a p e r s o n a l e v o l u t i o n , which i s f i n a l l y subsumed i n t o an image of u n i v e r s a l r e d e m p t i o n . Of c o u r s e , a l l p o e t r y i s a m e n t a l event and has m e a n i n g f u l e x i s t e n c e o u t s i d e the mind; t h e r e f o r e , any voyage i s i n t e r n a l , but i t i s i m p o r t a n t  poetic  t o r e c o g n i z e t h a t here  the poet r e p r e s e n t s the a c t i o n as a m a n i f o l d p r o c e s s v a r i o u s a s p e c t s of e x i s t e n c e  no  i n which  coalesce.  Here d e a t h seems almost t o swallow up the whole w o r l d and even t o have overcome C h r i s t , but a t the u t t e r m o s t  p o i n t of  sheer n e g a t i o n the comic movement b e g i n s and s w e l l s t o a t r i u m p h a n t denouement.  But though r e d e m p t i o n as an event  i n t i m e , i t can o n l y be r e a l i z e d o u t s i d e i t .  occurs  Salvation l i e s  beyond r a t h e r t h a n i n l i f e w h i c h i s r u l e d by d e a t h .  I t i s there-  f o r e p o s s i b l e t o l i v e towards s a l v a t i o n , but o n l y w i t h d e a t h does i t become a t t a i n a b l e . The  dramatic  s t r u c t u r e of t h i s e x t e n s i v e sequence  and an accompanying growth i n the p o e t ' s awareness of a h i e r a r c h y of v a l u e s mark c o n s i d e r a b l e development.  F o r he has now  c e r t a i n c o n t o u r s , p l a c i n g C h r i s t a t the c e n t r e of h i s map r e l a t i n g him t o a l l o t h e r forms of e x i s t e n c e .  By  defined and  presenting  the  c r u c i f i x i o n as the d e c i s i v e raoment i n h i s t o r y he has broken  the  unopposed supremacy o f death i n time.  the  astronomical, a s t r o l o g i c a l , h i s t o r i c a l , r e l i g i o u s aspects  of  C h r i s t ' s d e a t h by a d o p t i n g a double s t a n d p o i n t , where r e l a -  t i v i t y and c h r o n o l o g i c a l time f u s e .  He merges h i m s e l f i n  Not o n l y d i d the whole  movement o f h i s t o r y converge on t h i s a c t , but a l l being p a r t i c i pated i n i t .  Thus^ I f the poet h i m s e l f shared i n the a c t o f  redemption, the l a t t e r spans the e n t i r e past and f u t u r e , from the to  b e g i n n i n g u n t i l the end o f time.  I t i s , therefore, possible  view the u n i v e r s e as a temporal c o n f l u e n c e around Though the sequence  Christ.  Interweaves a l a r g e number o f  p e r s p e c t i v e s and succeeds i n u n i f y i n g them, n o n e t h e l e s s I do not  share Olson's enthusiasm f o r i t , not, as I hope, from a d i s -  l i k e f o r extreme  s u b t l e t y , but a c o n v i c t i o n t h a t i t i s here  c o n t r i v e d and p a s s i o n l e s s .  S i n c e he has e l u c i d a t e d each p i e c e  most p e r c e p t i v e l y , I s h a l l not embark upon a d e t a i l e d examination, but  s h a l l conclude my d i s c u s s i o n o f the sonnets by o b s e r v i n g  t h a t the e x i s t e n t i a l world o f death and the h i g h e r v i s i o n come f a c e t o f a c e here and t h a t the l a t t e r triumphs over the former. "A s a i n t about t o f a l l " disaster.  i s ominous w i t h impending  I t was w r i t t e n v e r y s h o r t l y b e f o r e the second world  war broke out and seems impregnated w i t h p r o p h e t i c f o r e b o d ings. The f a l l  i t describes i s multiple:  the smashing o f  55  peace, the r u i n of L u c i f e r , the f a l l of man,  as s p e c i e s  and  i n d i v i d u a l , and the P l a t o n i c n o t i o n of the f a l l t o e a r t h of a spirit.  A t the c e n t r e s t a n d s the s a i n t on whom the c l o s e -  packed images a l l converge, demanding a l i t e r a l t h a t the mind may  interpretation,  f o l l o w where the poet l e a d s i t .  p o i n t i n h i s c a r e e r he c o m p l a i n e d S£ a v e r y  At  favourable  a p p r e c i a t i o n by E d i t h S i t w e l l , because, as he s a i d , doesn't t a k e the meaning l i t e r a l l y " . *  2  one  I f we  "She  take him a t  f a c e v a l u e , we f i n d t h a t he i n v i t e s the i m a g i n a t i o n t o move c e n t r i f u g a l l y ; i f we do n o t , then we are f o r c e d t o s e a r c h for  equivalents.  No doubt h i s s t r a n g e n e s s  has tempted  c r i t i c s t o approach h i s p o e t r y i n d i r e c t l y ; b u t , though he o c c a s i o n a l l y f a i l us, u s u a l l y he does n o t .  may  His peculiar  c a s t of v i s i o n r e c a l l s B l a k e and t o a l e s s e r degree H o p k i n s ; the former i n s u b s t a n c e , The  the l a t t e r c h i e f l y i n language.  poem d e p i c t s a f a l l from Grace i n p h y s i c a l terms,  the f a l l of the s p i r i t and p h y s i c a l d e g e n e r a t i o n insperable.  ' K i t e hems' suggests  a l r e a d y on the f a l l e n s a i n t , who  being  the s m e l l of c a r r i o n i s has ncwsold h i m s e l f t o  death and wakes i n a s t a t e r e s e m b l i n g h e l l , where one by heaven, v i r t u e and C h r i s t f o r e s a k e him,  until  Heaven f e l l w i t h h i s f a l l and one axr.... w h i c h suggests rest.  one  c r o c k e d b e l l beat the  t h a t any s i n g l e event i n c r e a t i o n a f f e c t s the  This i s a perfectly l o g i c a l standpoint.  F o r so l o n g  as t h e r e be one f l a w i n the u n i v e r s e i t w i l l t a i n t the e n t i r e  56. order; j u s t as one death m i r r o r s i t s u n i v e r s a l i t y . In the second s t a n z a the poet i d e n t i f i e s h i m s e l f w i t h the s a i n t , f o r each sees heaven from below: The The  scudding base of the f a m i l i a r skv l o f t y r o o t s of the c l o u d s .  Then the e a r t h becomes a h e l l : The s k u l l of the e a r t h i s barbed w i t h a war of burning b r a i n s and h a i r . . . . where he again emphasises the i n t e r c h a n g e a b l e nature of the microcosm and the macrocosm.  The s a i n t c o n t a i n s a l l heaven,  j u s t as the e a r t h i s a s i n g l e head. The  t h i r d s t a n z a unkennels a w h i r l w i n d of h o r r o r and  d e s t r u c t i o n , which f o l l o w the f a l l , "The  o l d mud hutch a g a i n "  a manifest r e t u r n t o  and t o the squamous g r i e f and c o n f l i c t  w i t h which s i n and death reward us. is  So long as man's s p i r i t  f o r c e d t o r e t u r n t o or remain i n the wheel of p h y s i c a l  e x i s t e n c e t h e r e i s no peace f o r him, f o r the e x i s t e n t i a l order i s a t best a v o i d and a t worse c u r s e d . T h i s p i e c e has no precedent is  important  t o observe  i n the poet's works.  It  how the s a i n t , having been i d e n t i f i e d  w i t h the poet, becomes him.  I t suggests not simply the  a f f i n i t i e s e x i s t i n g between two people on the same l e v e l of being, but a k i n d o f t r a n s m i g r a t i o n .  A d i s s o c i a t i o n between  body and s o u l a l s o o c c u r s , s i n c e one consequence of the f a l l is  the fragmentation  of the s p i r i t u a l p e r s o n a l i t y .  Never  before has the poet's sense of man's d i v i d e d s e l v e s expressed  57. i t s e l f so a c u t e l y .  New t o o , i s i t s p a r t i c u l a r d u a l movement  w h i c h i n v o l v e s t h e f a l l from heaven t o e a r t h and t h e d i s s o l u t i o n o f one i d e n t i t y i n t o a n o t h e r .  He c o n c e i v e s the  i n f e r n a l predicament q u a s i - d r a r a a t i c a l l y , e x p a n d i n g one moment i n t o a c o n d i t i o n o f e x i s t e n c e . A growth i n s p i r i t u a l s e n s i b i l i t y i s c e r t a i n l y  visible.  Thomas i s no l o n g e r merely concerned w i t h d e a t h as a f o r c e i n c y c l i c a l p r o c e s s , nor even as t h e womb o f f u t u r e  tranquility;  here i t i n v a d e s t h e known w o r l d and becomes i t s s p i r i t u a l ruler.  L i f e has become t h e kingdom o f d e a t h . We have watched a growth i n t h e p o e t ' s sense o f  p e r s o n a l p a i n , t h e d e c l i n e o f h i s pantheism and g r e a t e r awareness o f s p i r i t u a l i t y , accompanied t i o n o f s i n and s p i r i t u a l m o r t a l i t y .  by a s h a r p e r r e a l i s a He now p o s s e s s e s an  i d e a l o f b e i n g w h i c h , b e i n g i n j u r e d , imposes t h e p e n a l t y o f g u i l t and sodden m i s e r y . Most o f t h e s e c u l a r poems o f t h e c e n t r a l p e r i o d r e f l e c t these tendencies.  S i n c e space i s l i m i t e d we s h a l l have  t o omit t h o s e w h i c h seem l e a s t v a l u a b l e and c o n c e n t r a t e on the most i m p o r t a n t .  U n f o r t u n a t e l y , Thomas does not l e n d  himself to representative selections, precisely  because,  though v a r i a t i o n s and m o d u l a t i o n s abound landmarks a r e r a r e . Moreover, i f t h e r e a r e few, i f any, v i r t u a l l y p e r f e c t p i e c e s , almost none i s t o t a l l y w o r t h l e s s . The next group c o m p r i s e s t h e two e l e g i e s o f t h e period "After the f u n e r a l "  and "The tombstone t o l d when  58.  she d i e d . "  In r e l a t i o n t o h i s t o t a l canon b o t h l o o k  forward  r a t h e r t h a n back. The  f i r s t has j u s t l y been much p r a i s e d .  a t r i f l e coarse-grained,  I t i s perhaps  but I t h i n k none w i l l deny i t s  r e m a r k a b l e p l a s t i c power. The  f i r s t s i x l i n e s d e s c r i b e the f o l l y  and an unnamed d e c a y i n g body The  of the f u n e r a l  and  s p i t t l e d e y e s , the s a l t ponds i n the s l e e v e s . . . .  but as he c o n t i n u e s , the poet i s o l a t e s h i m s e l f and the dead p e r s o n :  identifies  she i s h i s theme and he her e l e g i s t ,  s c u l p t o r c a r v i n g her image i n s t o n e .  or  Thus:  ... t h i s skyward s t a t u e W i t h the w i l d b r e a s t and b l e s s e d and g i a n t s k u l l Is c a r v e d from her i n a room w i t h a wet window I n a f i e r c e l y mourning house i n a c r o o k e d y e a r .  . . .  and . . . s c u l p t u r e d Ann  i s seventy y e a r s of s t o n e .  . . .  w h i c h suggest the s i l e n c e , i m m o b i l i t y and p e r s i s t e n c e of  stone.  He  new  t u r n s her i n t o a s t a t u e and thereby  endows her w i t h a  l e a s e of l i f e t h r o u g h h i s a r t , but a t the end a k i n d of r e s t o r a t i o n t a k e s p l a c e , f o r Ann's image storms the poet . . .until The s t u f f e d l u n g of the f o x t w i t c h and c r y Love And the s t r u t t i n g f e r n l a y seeds on the b l a c k s i l l . I t i s as i f the s p i r i t  of l o v e emanating from Ann  w h i c h have become i d e n t i f i e d , i n f u s e s new  and her  l i f e i n t o the  t h a t once surrounded h e r , r e s u l t i n g i n a m i r a c u l o u s There are t h r e e main s t a g e s i n t h e p i e c e :  statue,  objects  regeneration. physical  59.  d i s s o l u t i o n , t h e c a r v i n g o f Ann's image (a k i n d o f t r a n s f o r m a t i o n ) and a r e s u r r e c t i o n .  Thus t h e poem moves t h r o u g h d e a t h  and l i f e i n a r t t o a l i f e i n w h i c h both a r e subsumed. "The  tombstone  t o l d when she d i e d "  d e p i c t s the  wedding o f a v i r g i n t o d e a t h , t h e demon l o v e r .  Here c e r t a i n  r e c u r r e n t modes o f thought i n h i s work a r e c l a r i f i e d : s e x u a l consummation and d e a t h a r e v i r t u a l l y synonymous. w i s h s u b l i m a t e s a s e x u a l Sehnsucht  no f l e s h c a n appease,  j u s t a s t h e orgasm i s i t s e l f a k i n d of d e a t h . symptoms a r e a l i k e :  The d e a t h -  Even t h e i r  t h e s h a l l o w b r e a t h i n g , t h e shudder, t h e  r e l e a s e , f o l l o w e d by r e p o s e . The p a i n o f t h e g i r l ' s d e a t h r e s e m b l e s t h e anguished ecstacy of deflorescence as She c r i e d h e r w h i t e - d r e s s e d l i m b s were bare And h e r r e d l i p s were k i s s e d b l a c k , She wept i n h e r p a i n and made mouths, T a l k e d and t o r e though h e r eyes s m i l e d . D r e s s e d i n t h e w h i t e o f a b r i d e o r a c o r p s e , she s u r r e n d e r s h e r l i f e t o d e a t h as i f she were y i e l d i n g up h e r v i r g i n i t y t o a lover. moving.  The p a s s i o n and t e n d e r n e s s o f t h e s e l i n e s i s d e e p l y I p a r t i c u l a r l y admire  'and made mouths,'  which i s  not o n l y a f i n e pun, but s u g g e s t s t o o t h e h e l p l e s s i n a r t i c u l a c y of  womanhood i n t h e g r i p o f u n u t t e r a b l e e m o t i o n . In  the  t h e second p a r t t h e poet d e s c r i b e s h i s v i s i o n i n  form o f a f i l m o r p r o j e c t i o n o f t h e mind as t h e woman  speaks t h r o u g h t h e s t o n e - b i r d and t e l l s how d e a t h d e f l o w e r e d h e r . Death, t h e l o v e r , has had a l o n g h i s t o r y i n l i t e r a t u r e ,  60. but Thomas p r e s e n t s him w i t h a b i o l o g i c a l p r e c i s i o n which i s highly o r i g i n a l .  He has undergone a remarkable change from a  Grand Guignol f i g u r e of h o r r o r t o a l u s t y bridegroom who s a t i s f i e s the g i r l of  mortified  and makes up t o her f o r her barren  virginity.  Perhaps f o r the f i r s t t r a n s v a l u a t i o n has occured: fertile.  life  time i n h i s work a complete  life  i s t o t a l l y barren and death  The suggestion t h a t he e x p e r i e n c e d  the v i r g i n ' s  coBSumiation before even her c o n c e p t i o n harks back t o the great world o f p o t e n t i a l i t y , which we f i n d i n works as removed from each other as The F a i r i e Queene Book o f the Dead. fulfils  and The T i b e t a n  Human e x i s t e n c e f r u s t r a t e s r a t h e r than  being and i n the time-space  present and the f u t u r e merge.  continuum the past,  From t h i s p o i n t onwards i n  Thomas, death becomes i n c r e a s i n g l y l e s s the d e s t r o y e r of sex and ever more the u l t i m a t e sexual symbol, r e s o l v i n g the e x i s t e n t i a l problem. " F i n d meat on bones",  however, i s a v i o l e n t  r e v u l s i o n a g a i n s t the laws of l i f e , where l o v e and death are deadly enemies and a g a i n s t a u n i v e r s e r u l e d by . . .the b i n d i n g moon And the parliament of sky, The k i n g c r a f t s of the wicked sea, Autocracy of n i g h t and day, D i c t a t o r s h i p of sun. . . . which a r e a l l time's s a t r a p s , though a l l a r e themselves doomed. The  s p i r i t of the p i e c e i s g r i m l y Promethean and i s charged  d i s g u s t a t the monstrous ravages  death i n f l i c t s  with  on l o v e , t o  which the poet responds by s u g g e s t i n g a symbol of s e x u a l l o v e ;  61. be hung over  the grave i n mocking e p i t a p h .  The  t h i r d and f o u r t h stanzas dramatise the poet's  f e e l i n g s as he speaks i n s i d e a p e r s o n a l frame. p e r s p e c t i v e i n r e l a t i o n t o thec*ha?s  Their  somewhat reminds me of  a g l o b a l m i r r o r i n a Dutch i n t e r i o r p a i n t i n g , which r e f l e c t s the r e s t .  S t i l l l i v i n g he f e e l s he i s a l r e a d y  rotting.  Then i n War on the s p i d e r and the wren! War on the d e s t i n y of man! Doom on the sun! which r e c a l l s Webster, h i s rage reaches a B i b l i c a l f u r o r e . He embraces the whole u n i v e r s e i n h i s i n v o c a t i o n t o d e s t r u c t i o n . He cannot r e j e c t  l i f e , but i t s t r a n s i e n c e makes i t s p l e a s u r e s  unbearably b i t t e r . to  accept  A t the l a s t moment he r e t r a c t s and seems  l i f e and death i n Before death takes you, O take back t h i s .  It  i s a somewhat p r o b l e m a t i c a l r e s c d n s i o n , more e a s i l y  i n p s y c h o l o g i c a l than l o g i c a l terms.  explained  Perhaps i t i s t h a t i n  c u r s i n g c r e a t i o n he f i n d s he has cursed h i m s e l f and t h a t i n denying l i f e he i s denying h i m s e l f .  He r e c o g n i z e s  that,  however t e r r i b l e , the laws o f l i f e must be accepted, the anguish  of s e l f - a d j u s t m e n t  though  t e a r the human f a b r i c .  H i s f r e n e t i c rage a g a i n s t the e x i s t e n t i a l order here reaches i t s extreme. e a r l i e r world The it  I t s i g n i f i e s h i s r e l e a s e from the  and e n t r y i n t o a world  of i n d i v i d u a l  identities.  r e c o g n i t i o n does not i l l u m i n a t e the darkness, but f o r c e s t o betray  i t s e l f , as he p e r c e i v e s the darkness he d i s c o v e r e d  62 i n h i m s e l f r e f l e c t e d i n the e n t i r e u n i v e r s e . maddens him.  I t shocks and  P e r s o n a l l y I do not think one f i n a l c o u n t e r -  manding g e s t u r e can e f f a c e the overwhelmingly the r e s t of the poem c r e a t e s :  s t r o n g impression  f r e n z y , anguish and d e s p a i r .  The p a s t o r a l note, so b e a u t i f u l l y s t r u c k i n the l a s t p e r i o d , emerges c l e a r l y i n "Hold hard, these a n c i e n t minutes i n the cuckoo's month;" almost no i n n e r weather.  but, u n l i k e the l a t e r p i e c e s , i t has It presents a f l a t t e n e d perspective.  Though the f i g u r e o f time h i n t s a t h i s immanence i n the l a t e r poetry, here he i s a s p r i n g time: Time, i n a f o l l y ' s r i d e r , l i k e a county man Over the v a u l t s o f r i d i n g s w i t h h i s hounds a t h e e l , D r i v e s f o r t h my men, my c h i l d r e n from the hanging south. He i s the huntsman i n hunting pink and h i s quarry i s man.  Even  so the atmosphere of the poem i s green, charged w i t h the sap and v i b r a n c y of the season.  Though the p i e c e i s d i f f u s e , i t  occupies an important p l a c e i n the poet's development.  He i s  moving here through a world of l i g h t , and i t s contours a r e sensuous. In "We l y i n g by seasand"  a consciously controlled  r e l a t i o n w i t h the world supersedes the c h a o t i c danse macabre of the mind submerged i n a p o l l u t e d s e a o f g e n e s i s .  As the  p r e c e d i n g poem i t s i n t e r e s t l i e s i n i t s promise r a t h e r than its  fulfilment: We l y i n g by seasand, watching y e l l o w And the grave sea, mock who d e r i d e Who f o l l o w the r e d r i v e r s , hollow A l c o v e of words out of c i c a d a shade, For i n t h i s yellow grave of sand and sea A c a l l i n g f o r c o l o u r c a l l s w i t h t h e wind. . . .  63. These l i n e s show, I t h i n k , an untimely  t r a n s f e r e n c e of a  c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a p p r o p r i a t e to the e a r l i e r p o e t r y :  a circular  p a t t e r n , which here merely seems r e p e t i t i o u s . "The  hand t h a t signed the paper"  indicates a  d i r e c t i o n the poet d i d not take.  I t i s almost e p i g r a m a t i c a l l y  t e r s e and  S t a n f o r d observes  i t s flavor i s s a t i r i c .  "Film-like  . . . .the a c t i v a t i n g hand i s shown i m p e r s o n a l l y without  a  head a t t a c h e d , so t h a t the inhuman aspect of the a c t i o n becomes the more e v i d e n t " . ^  T h i s i s a f i n e i n s i g h t , but we  4  add t h a t Thomas adapts cinematographic of the l y r i c form.  We  technique  can speak of the p i c t o r i a l  should  t o the needs qualities  of h i s language, but h a r d l y of the l i n g u i s t i c c h a r a c t e r of his picture. The  first  stanza d e p i c t s an a c t of c o l l e c t i v e  and  i n d i v i d u a l murder, compressing i n l i t t l e compass a whole sheaf of circumstances,  "Sovereign" s u b t l y suggests,  not only the  power of the a b s o l u t e r u l e r s , but a l s o the g l i t t e r of g o l d upon f i n g e r s , we The  l e a r n l a t e r , t o be cramped.  second stanza c o n t r a s t s the might of the i n v e s t e d  power with the human r e a l i t y behind  it:  a creature  resembles n o t h i n g so much as an aged pedagogue*  who  There i s a  hideous i r o n y i n the f a c t t h a t one p e r s o n a l l y so puny should h o l d at h i s d i s p o s a l the l i v e s of c o u n t l e s s o t h e r s . In the t h i r d stanza the poet b i t t e r l y p r o t e s t s a g a i n s t the s u b j e c t i o n of the race t o the s i g n a t u r e of a scribbler:  64. Great i s the hand t h a t h o l d s dominion over Man by a s c r i b b l e d name. What above a l l comes through i s the sheer of the t y r a n t I  irresponsibility  There i s no c o r r e l a t i v e between the a c t of  s i g n i n g the d e c l a r a t i o n of war or a t r e a t y and the r e s u l t s of e i t h e r , which a r e h o r r i b l e , s i n c e the aftermath of s l a u g h t e r i s hardly  better The  than the bloodshed.  hand, a grotesque image, t h a t runs through the  poem, p r e v a i l s i n the end: A hand r u l e s p i t y as a hand r u l e s heaven; Hands have no t e a r s t o f l o w . The  human and d i v i n e d i c t a t o r s h i p s that govern men's f a t e s  are f a m i l i a r themes.  S h e l l e y r a n t e d , Hardy brooded and Thomas  shakes a c l e n c h e d f i s t .  He i s not only denouncing e x p l o i t a t i o n ,  the s u b j u g a t i o n of the many t o the few, but the e n t i r e  racial  predicament, the f a c t t h a t one man, or one bad group of men, has  time and again sent masses o f f e l l o w human beings t o  the w a l l - w i t h a s c r i b b l e . monstrous i n c o n g r u i t y  The whole p i e c e  emphasises the  between cause and e f f e c t ; one i s t o t a l l y  inhuman, an unattached limb, w h i l s t the o t h e r i s a numberless l e g i o n of v i c t i m s . The perspective  s t r u c t u r a l pattern  operates i n the f i r s t  i n d i c a t e s t h a t an h i s t o r i c a l and t h i r d v e r s e s ,  whilst  the second and f o u r t h r e l a t e the a c t i o n t o the immediate present, that i s a l s o e t e r n a l l y recurrent,  as g e n e r a t i o n on g e n e r a t i o n  goes t o i t s death l i k e sheep t o the a b a t t o i r . It's  perhaps r e g r e t t a b l e Thomas d i d not develop  65 f u r t h e r i n the d i r e c t i o n t h i s poem f o l l o w s .  It i s certainly  one of the most powerful of h i s s h o r t works. for  No one reason  h i s unconcern wiifch e v o l v i n g f u r t h e r s a t i r i c a l l y  itself.  We  can o n l y speculate, but i t seems t o me  that the p r e s s u r e of h i s growing s p i r i t u a l  suggests  possible  v i s i o n precluded  him from m a i n t a i n i n g the a t t i t u d e which the poetry of denunciation requires. "Oh no work of words"  r e c o r d s a c r e a t i v e pause or  f a l l o w p e r i o d which t r o u b l e d the poet.  In i t s e l f , i t i s poor  s t u f f ; i n p l a c e s almost u n b e l i e v a b l y bad: P u f f i n g the pounds of manna up through the dew heaven, The  to  l o v e l y g i f t of the gab bangs back on a b l i n d  shaft.  These l i n e s do not simply present tense i n a r t i c u l a t e n e s s , they conform artist art  to i t .  However, i n d e f i n i n g the r e l a t i o n between  and a r t the p i e c e i s r e v e a l i n g .  Death i s 'a bad  dark',  i s the 'manna* which he r e t u r n s f o r the g i f t of l i f e ;  c r e a t i v e s t e r i l i t y i s a double death. love because  i t repays l i f e  c h a l l e n g e s death,  A r t means love and  f o r i t s g i f t and l i f e  'the expensive ogre'.  here t o s u g g e s t i n g , as a man  thus, life;  because i t  He comes very c l o s e  a l i v e i n time, the i m a g i n a t i o n  alone enables him t o transcend the e x i s t e n t i a l o r d e r . S p i r i t u a l v i s i o n may  disclose v i s i t s  beyond t h i s l i f e ,  but  perhaps a r t alone renders p h y s i c a l e x i s t e n c e t o l e r a b l e . My d i s c u s s i o n of the poet's e v o l u t i o n through h i s middle p e r i o d i s now  complete.  I have attempted  t o convey  66 something  of the impression of confused expansion and clouded  s t r u g g l e s f o r a f f i r m a t i o n w i t h which i t has l e f t me. all,  Above  i t i s necessary, I b e l i e v e , t o emphasize t h a t w i t h an  e n l a r g e d awareness of the h o r r o r l i f e may i n f l i c t ,  there i s  a l s o a s u r e r p e r c e p t i o n of the v a r i e t y and the l i g h t of the known w o r l d .  The process of expansion i n any sphere r e q u i r e s  hard l a b o r and much sweat and perhaps  some t e a r s .  Lucky  indeed the man or a r t i s t who achieves t h i s p a i n l e s s l y , though I am not sure the r e s u l t would impress us!  CHAPTER I I I Part 2  Sheer technical accomplishment, which has carried many poets through mediocre poems, was not one of Thomas's doubtful accomplishments,  even though he was probably one  of the greatest masters of v e r s i f i c a t i o n the language has known, f o r where the utmost i n s p i r a t i o n i s lacking he loses his a r t i n various kinds of excess. The problem of style i s as i n f i n i t e as the mind; therefore, any generalization can contain at best no more than a f r a c t i o n a l t r u t h .  But I think we can say that Thomas  did not f i n d a neutral point of departure such as Yeats reached. His f i n e s t work i s t e s s e l l a t e d , l i k e a mozaic composed of very many b r i l l i a n t l y coloured stones of d i f f e r e n t shapes and sizes, a l l of which contribute towards the complete harmony of the whole e f f e c t . the design;  Sometimes he f a i l s to achieve  sometimes i t i s d i f f i c u l t to know whether our d i s -  s a t i s f a c t i o n may be h i s fault or our own. current works i t i s always a problem.  With recent or  We are very much l i k e  c h i l d r e n i n a great forest, who can only c l i n g t i g h t l y to the a r t i s t ' s hand i f we trust him and i f we do not, leave him. When Thomas o f f e r s us not a feast of poetic exuberance, but a well-wrought dish cover containing only dust, we are e n t i t l e d to quit h i s company, as these l i n e s from "Now"  would i n d i c a t e :  68.  Now Say nay, No say s i r Yea the dead s t i r , And t h i s , nor t h i s , i s shade, the landed crow, He l y i n g low w i t h r u i n i n h i s e a r , The c o c k e r e l ' s t i d e u p c a s t i n g from the  fire.  What I o b j e c t t o here i s not o b s c u r i t y , though i t i s c e r t a i n l y marked, but the p a l p a b l e , mannered o b f u s c a t i o n which o c c u r r e d t o the detriment of sensuous immediacy.  has  Others have  c i t e d other passages t o condemn; however, I have no doubt that i t would be p e r f e c t l y p o s s i b l e t o take a few l i n e s from Shakespeare and h o l d them up t o r i d i c u l e or  condemnation.  There i s more t o Thomas than h i s worst l a p s e s ]  though these  can be a s t o n i s h i n g l y crude, as when he w r i t e s of 'metal phantoms', 'the dear d a f t time' where v u l g a r i t y and elegant  or 'the q u i e t  gentleman',  v a r i a t i o n c o n s p i r e t o h i s down-  fall. A more s e r i o u s f a u l t  i s the u n g a i n l y rhythm  sometimes i n t e r p o s e s , a s i n t h e s e  lines  from  "Grief  that  thief  of  Now Jack my f a t h e r s l e t the t i m e - f a c e d crook, Death f l a s h i n g from h i s s l e e v e , With swag of bubbles i n a seedy sack Sneak down the s t a l l i o n grave, B u l l s - e y e the outlaw through a eunuch c r a c k And f r e e the twin-boxed g r i e f , No s i l v e r w h i s t l e s chase him down the weeks Dayed peaks t o day t o death. . . . where a monotone c r e a k s by.  I understand t h a t Robert  Graves  o f f e r e d a pound note t o anyone who would come forward w i t h a c o n v i n c i n g i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of a passage that c o i n c i d e s more or less with t h i s .  i n c o m p r e h e n s i b i l i t y i s a problem I am  time."  69  prepared t o a c c e p t , hoping that subsequent r e a d i n g s w i l l s l o w l y e n l i g h t e n me,  not, because I b e l i e v e the reader i s  always the b l i n d one, but because I t r u s t Thomas's a r t i s t i c i n t e g r i t y f o r the e x c e l l e n t reason t h a t , where I f e e l a t home w i t h h i s work, though i t may  not have been a t once p e r c e p t i b l e ,  I f i n d t h e r e i s always a meaning. Where rhythm f a i l s , however, no more need.be s a i d . It i s the one element i n p o e t r y which, i n my cannot be f a k e d .  estimation,  Mere c l e v e r n e s s w i l l never s u f f i c e t o hide  f a l s e rhythm; and when t h i s i n t r u d e s , n o t h i n g can redeem the defection. In Thomas, the overloaded imagery that o f t e n accompanies r h y t h m i c a l deadness i s l e s s a cause than a symptom of f a u l t y i n s p i r a t i o n and masks a deeper inadequacy. man, who may  seeks s e l f - a s s u r a n c e  Like  t o c o n c e a l the r e v e l a t i o n  silence  sponsor, the poet r e s o r t s t o loud and v o l u b l e t a l k and  gesture.  He g e s t i c u l a t e s , r a n t s , c o n t o r t s h i m s e l f ,  throws  s p a r k l i n g sand i n our eyes, or i n s t e a d of o f f e r i n g us a work as f r e s h as glowing womanhood, becomes a marriage-broker of sacophagi. H i s r e a l f a u l t s resemble l e s s Hopkins's than Hardy's. L i k e the former he can sometimes be rough, u n l i k e the l a t t e r  who,  though a t times r h y t h m i c a l l y obvious, r a r e l y s t r i k e s a f a l s e note.  H i s p o e t r y i s a l s o l e s s orotund than Hopkins's; i t  possesses a nervous, sometimes s t a c c a t o energy, that i n p l a c e s  70. captures the tang and jagged power o f Hardy's v i g o r o u s l y r i c s . But u s u a l l y he i s r i c h e r , e a s i l y estranged from h i s theme, i n c l i n e d t o e l a b o r a t e d i s g u i s e s f o r incoherence, but a t h i s b e s t so m a g i i i f i c e n t l y , s u r p a s s i n g l y f i n e , t o l a b o u r over h i s s h o r t comings were c h u r l i s h . At f i r s t  s i g h t , he seems t o share c e r t a i n baroque  c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s w i t h the M e t a p h y s i c a l s .  Baroque, I take i t , i s  an a r t which c a r r i e s e l a b o r a t i o n t o t h e f a r t h e s t l i m i t s o f congruous r e l e v a n c e , every d e t a i l m a n i f e s t i n g a c e n t r a l d e s i g n , s t i l l d i s c e r n i b l e i n them.  I t suggests a c u l t u r e d e d i c a t e d l e s s  t o r e v o l u t i o n , than i n f i n i t e modulation.  I t i s abundant and  encourages i t s m a t e r i a l t o express i t s e l f t o the p o i n t o f exhaustion.  E s s e n t i a l l y , i t I s the a r t o f t h e facade and i s  h i g h l y conscious o f i t s r e l a t i o n t o p a r t i c u l a r s e t t i n g s and t h e r e f o r e t o i t s s o c i e t y and c u l t u r e as.a whole.  A study o f  Hindu r e l i g i o u s s c u l p t u r e would c l a r i f y t h i s p o i n t . Thomas's n u c l e a r imagery o f t e n possesses  associative,  r a t h e r than conceptual r e l e v a n c e , and h i s harmonies o f t e n depend on a p r e c a r i o u s , though s k i l f u l  juxtaposition of discords.  F r e q u e n t l y h i s work i s a l i v e w i t h ferment.  U n l i k e the baroque,  which seems f u l l y a t home i n i t s themes and p r e s e n t s them w i t h a s s u r e d awareness o f p u b l i c response, Thomas suggests a s p i r i t engaged i n s t r u g g l i n g t o Impose order on i t s e l f and on the world around. At a time when he was emerging from t h e c o n f i n e s o f h i s psyche, u n c e r t a i n t y and confused excess r e f l e c t the v a c i l l a t i o n s  71. of  an a r t i s t trapped between an e x i s t e n t i a l v o i d and a s p i r i t u a l  vision.  The i n e v i t a b l e i n t r u s i o n s of the c r e a t i v e  which r e s u l t would be unthinkable i n baroque.  personality  There are p l a c e s ,  however where he a c h i e v e s a c r i s p , naked power, as i n "The hand that s i g n e d the paper" or a grave pungency, as i n " A f t e r the funeral": Argument of the hewn v o i c e , g e s t u r e and psalm, Storm me f o r e v e r over her grave u n t i l The s t u f f e d lung of the fox t w i t c h and c r y Love And the s t r u t t i n g f e r n l a y seeds on the b l a c k s i l l , where, d e s p i t e the merest the  t r a c e s of v e r b o s i t y , he almost reaches  s t i l l n e s s l y i n g at the h e a r t of the g r e a t e s t poetry and the  s i l e n c e heard behind the words which echoes oh long a f t e r they have ceased. As he breaks the dark c h r y s a l i s of the s e l f and  sheds  the  more c o n s t r i c t i n g elements i n h i s p e r s o n a l i t y , he moves i n t o  the  l i g h t and becomes an instrument e x p r e s s i n g the commands of  inspiration.  He becomes more attuned to c a t c h i n g the i n n e r notes  which can be heard o n l y when the mind i t s e l f has been  stilled  and can repose i n a calm that i s c o l o u r l e s s l i k e spring-water. Then indeed can a poet l a y h i s ear to the s e c r e t heart of the world and c a t c h the music of i t s p u l s e I  CHAPTER IV THE THIRD PERIOD Many poets have l i v e d t o r e f l e c t the s t e r i l i t y of an i n s p i r a t i o n that has f o r s a k e n them, but which they r e f u s e t o r e c o g n i z e has vanished.  Wordsworth and Tennyson were both  c a p i t a l o f f e n d e r s a g a i n s t the s i l e n c e that an a r t i s t should r e s p e c t , when h i s daemon has evaporated.  Thomas l e f t  virtually  nothing we can d i s m i s s as the c a p e r i n g s of the performer mimicki n g h i s own t r i c k s . G e o f f r e y Moore has w r i t t e n ,  "He was a poet of a f f i r m a -  t i o n , T.S. E l i o t was a poet of n e g a t i o n . " ^ i s quite true.  Eliot  I do not t h i n k t h i s  i s a d m i t t e d l y a depressed poet c h a r a c t e r -  i s t i c a l l y , whereas Thomas i s exuberant and o c c a s i o n a l l y  ecstatic;  but E l i o t ' s l a t e r work i s a f f i r m a t i v e and Thomas's possesses c e r t a i n negative a t t r i b u t e s . The most fundamental d i f f e r e n c e between them, I t h i n k , l i e s l e s s i n t h e i r c o n c e p t u a l and emotional i n t e r e s t s , than i n the d i v e r g e n t c a s t of mind and f e e l i n g l y i n g behind t h e i r works. Both share a magnanimous sense of human s u f f e r i n g , a t r a n s c e n d e n t a l p i t y and i n f i n i t e understanding of the m o r t a l l o t . G e o f f r e y G r i g s o n deserves a h e a r i n g a t t h i s j u n c t u r e ;  "Mr. E l i o t  poems l i v e t i g h t l y above the w a i s t , r a t h e r higher than t h a t , abov the h e a r t ;  Mr. Thomas's l i v e , sprawl l o o s e l y , below the w a i s t .  The s e l f i n Mr. Thomas's poems seems inhuman and g l a n d u l a r . " ^ The charge i m p l i e s i n both the same d e f e c t ;  l a c k of h e a r t ,  the r e s u l t i n one case of m o r t i f y i n g c e r e b r a l a t t e n u a t i o n , i n the other of the c o n t r o l l i n g power of mere i n s t i n c t .  73. L a t e r i n the same essay,  he remarks t h a t Thomas's statement,  "Whatever i s hidden should be made naked, e t c . " " the d i s i n f e c t i o n of p s y c h o l o g i c a l o r d u r e , "  iJ  "suggests  which p l a c e s  poetry on the l e v e l of s u b s t i t u t i o n f o r a n a l s e x u a l i t y . w e l l , g e n i t a l and e x c r e t i v e I Mr.  the  Very  A r e c o r d of a n a l e r o t i c i s m ]  Grigson has e v i d e n t l y read, or perhaps misread, Freud!  Though g r o s s l y u n j u s t , h i s essay E l i o t ' s poetry  contains a quarter-truth.  s u f f e r s from r e p r e s s i o n s and Thomas sometimes  abandons the human f o r mere somatic Robert Horan, one c r i t i c s , has s a i d :  indulgences.  of the poet's most p e r c e p t i v e  "Thomas's s u b j e c t matter . . .  i s an  effort  to f r e e memory from the s t r i c t u r e s of p a t e r n i t y , from r e l i g i o n and  from death;  t o e s t a b l i s h the unique i n d i v i d u a l , not merely  as the v i c t i m , but as the agent, of c h o i c e ;  not alone  created  HQ*  by h i s t o r y , but c r e a t i v e i n h i s t o r y . " preliminary condition f o r love.  v  Self-awareness i s a  Thomas moves from a somewhat  p a s s i v e a n a l y s i s of love t o an a c t i v e self-detachment, him  enabling  t o express the q u a l i t y of love i n h i s work. I d i s a g r e e w i t h Shapiro  the t e n s i o n i n h i s poetry  that "the p u r i t a n i s m s e t s up  - a t e n s i o n based upon love and  fear  of love - the b a s i c sexual t e n s i o n , the b a s i c t h e o l o g i c a l t e n s i o n . The  great weakness of Thomas i s that he takes to h i s h e e l s when  he t r i e s t o grapple w i t h i t . " ^  I o b j e c t to the  confused  approach which seems undecided i f i t i s d i r e c t e d t o the a r t or the a r t i s t h i m s e l f .  Nor  do I understand i n the l e a s t what  "the b a s i c t h e o l o g i c a l t e n s i o n " means.  C e r t a i n modes of  theology  74  may  harbour a depraved h o s t i l i t y t o s e x u a l l i b e r a t i o n , but  I  t h i n k Buddhism and the H i n d u r e l i g i o n have f a r e d b e t t e r than most p h i l o s o p h i e s i n e l i m i n a t i n g from human l i f e t i c a l a s p e c t s of sex.  the problema-  Moreover, sane t h e o l o g i e s do not  s e x u a l i n f a v o u r of a more s p i r i t u a l form of l o v e ;  repress  they  teach  us t h a t the former i s n e c e s s a r y and d e s i r a b l e u n t i l i t has  left  us and t h a t we  full.  can o n l y r i s e by h a v i n g  But then I suspect  l i v e d d e s i r e t o the  that, i n common w i t h many o t h e r s , Mr.  Shapiro  t e n d s t o equate the most f o o l i s h m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of the human mind i n a g i v e n r e a l m w i t h i t s t o t a l  possibilities.  C e r t a i n l y i t i s t r u e t h a t Thomas's p o e t r y  i s largely  the a r t born of c o n f l i c t , i n w h i c h the a r t i s t seeks t o  achieve  r e s o l u t i o n , r a t h e r than t h a t w r i t t e n from a t r a n q u i l i n s p i r a t i o n a l r e a d y purged of s t r e s s . contemplative. formation  He i s t h e r e f o r e d r a m a t i c  r a t h e r than  In Shakespeare's l a s t p l a y s a s t r a n g e  t a k e s p l a c e , t h r o u g h w h i c h the d r a m a t i c  onto a c o n t e m p l a t i v e  trans-  a r t i s t moves  plane.  Thomas's t h i r d p e r i o d c o n t a i n s a number of contemp l a t i v e e l e m e n t s , but i t s most o u t s t a n d i n g  attribute, I believe,  i s i t s abundance, i t s f e r t i l e awareness of the many-coloured w o r l d and  the d i v e r s i t y of l i f e .  There are many g r e a t themes:  c h i l d h o o d , the seasons, the s k i e s , the sea and the b i r d s , the b e a s t s and the f i s h e s , d e a t h and s e x u a l and To approach such work through F r e u d i a n I t may  spiritual ecstasies.  a n a l y s i s w i l l not  serve.  r e v e a l much about the a r t i s t , but w i l l t e l l us e x t r e m e l y  l i t t l e about h i s a r t .  I t i s e a s i e r to play a sedulous  75  p s y c h o l o g i c a l ape w i t h poetry than p o t t e r y , but not a whit more j u s t i f i a b l e .  Shapiro's  comment that i n Thomas "The  main  m symbol i s masculine l o v e , d r i v e n hard as Freud ambiguous:  i n the f i r s t p l a c e , Freud  drove i t  , r  is  e r e c t e d on a p u r e l y  p h y s i o l o g i c a l b a s i s a method of i n v e s t i g a t i n g the mind, i n which he p a i d s m a l l heed t o l o v e , a mental s t a t e that may may  not accompany c o p u l a t i o n ;  suggesting  one  i n the second p l a c e , i f he i s  t h a t the c e n t r a l image of Thomas's poetry  p h a l l u s , we  or  i s the  are e n t i t l e d t o ask t o what use he puts i t .  of the great symbols of the Hindu r e l i g i o n , but  It i s  possesses  an e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t meaning from what i t would have i n a pornographic  p i c t u r e . In f a c t , I t h i n k the p h a l l i c  means many t h i n g s i n the poet's works. the c r e a t i v e process; fulfilment;  symbol  Sometimes i t e n s h r i n e s  sometimes i t i s c o - e x t e n s i v e  with  self-  sometimes i t simply e x i s t s i n a chaos of d i f f u s e  s e x u a l i t y , which makes poor poetry; the o b s t a c l e s p r e v e n t i n g man  sometimes i t i n c a r n a t e s  from s p i r i t u a l f u l f i l m e n t ;  some-  times i t becomes i n t e g r a t e d i n t o a v i s i o n , where the body  and  the s o u l t r u l y c o a l e s c e .  the  But granted  p h a l l u s , which i s q u e s t i o n a b l e ,  the omnipresence of  i t seems a p i t y to c o n f i n e  o n e s e l f by a g e n e r a l i z a t i o n which excludes it  incorporates.  As we  s h a l l see,  so much more than  the l a s t p e r i o d i s too super-  abundant to l e t us dispose of i t s f e c u n d i t y i n one "The  c o n v e r s a t i o n of p r a y e r " e x p l o r e s the problem of  the r e l a t i o n of d i v i n e providence t o one  another.  b r i e f phrase.  Stanford asks,  t o two  "Ace we  l i v e s and of the  lives  t o read the h e a l i n g of  76.  the man's 'dying l o v e i n a h i g h room* as a m i r a c l e , t h e terms of which n e c e s s i t a t e an exchange of t h e man's and t h e c h i l d ' s fate?"  I f s o , how do we r e c o n c i l e t h i s n o t i o n w i t h t h e end,  where t h e two p r a y e r s The  become one?  sound about t o be s a i d i n t h e two p r a y e r s  For t h e s l e e p i n a s a f e land and t h e l o v e who d i e s W i l l be t h e same g r i e f I t h i n k t h e answer i s t h i s : s o r t s o f sorrow.  flying.  we cannot d i s t i n g u i s h between two  A l l sorrows a r e one;  a l l presuppose t h a t  t h e r e i s something we would have o t h e r w i s e . end  Therefore,  their  i s a l s o one, whether i t be f o r a s l e e p i n a land o f sweet  dreams or f o r t h e r e c o v e r y  from m o r t a l  s i c k n e s s o f one we l o v e .  So t h e human predicament c o n s i s t s , among other t h i n g s , o f g r i e f d i f f e r i n g only i n i t s s p e c i f i c causes; one  sorrow:  man's.^  but t o God t h e r e i s o n l y  I t f o l l o w s then t h a t t h e r e i s no g r e a t  comfort i n t h e d i v i n e response t o one p a r t i c u l a r p r a y e r , f o r i t does not s o l v e t h e problem of g r i e f , which remains. prayer  And f o r one  t h a t i s s a t i s f i e d t h e r e i s always another t h a t i s n o t .  Thus, the poet i s t e l l i n g u s , t h e r e a l problem i s not a s i n g l e sorrow, but i t s i n e v i t a b l e p e r s i s t e n c e through human l i v e s .  I  do not t h i n k he i s v o i c i n g t h e d o c t r i n e of "an eye f o r an eye and  a tooth f o r a tooth,"  t h a t what God g r a n t s w i t h one hand he  takes away w i t h a n o t h e r , b u t , by exchanging t h e c h i l d ' s and t h e man's r o l e s as s u p p l i c a n t s , showing us t h a t we can o n l y r e a l i z e t h e nature  of t h e problem on a l e v e l t h a t t r a n s c e n d s  the p a r t i c u l a r .  Indied, the t o t a l l y i r r a t i o n a l transference that  occurs  i s i t s e l f a comment upon t h e i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s  77.  in  l i f e , which r e f u s e s t o submit t o the order our reason would  impose on i t . ing,  T h i s does not n e c e s s a r i l y imply there i s no mean-  but that we s h a l l not f i n d i t on our humble terms.  What  does the stone know of the human heart or the mind of man the is  whole u n i v e r s e ? a mystery.  Why  of  sorrow comes t o one or f o r s a k e s another  I t seems t o be a r b i t r a r y .  I t may  l e a d us t o i n -  d i c t the gods f o r s t u p i d i t y , malevolence or i n d i f f e r e n c e , but the poet i s too s u b t l e t o p r o j e c t i n such a way.  He poses Job's  q u e s t i o n and i n d i c a t e s t h a t the answer must e x i s t , i f i t wished to  disclose  itself.  What v a r i e t y t h i s p o e t r y p o s s e s s e s !  Rage, r e s i g n a t i o n ,  m e t a p h y s i c a l s p e c u l a t i o n , i n s o l u b l e r i d d l e s are a l l p r e s e n t . There i s a l s o a wisdom, which has o f t e n been missed, simply because t o some minds i t s c o - e x i s t e n c e w i t h the D i o n y s i a c and o r g i a s t i c u t t e r a n c e seems improbable. "There was a s a v i o u r , " a r e l i g i o u s ode addressed t o C h r i s t , i s b e a u t i f u l , though not q u i t e even. The m a g n i f i c e n t o r a t o r y of the f i r s t  three v e r s e s ,  which d e s c r i b e the g l o r y of i n c a r n a t i o n , i s suddenly d i s p l a c e d by one of the most s t a r t l i n g l i n e s i n the poet's whole corpus: Now  i n the dark there i s o n l y y o u r s e l f and myself.  The e l e c t r i c l e a p from a c o l l e c t i v e t o an i n t e n s e l y  personal  u t t e r a n c e d e l i v e r s an a s t o n i s h i n g shock.  What a g u l f l i e s  tween the impact of C h r i s t ' s p u b l i c l i f e ,  a galaxy of m i r a c l e s ,  and the s i l e n t communion a l l o w e d the poet. ways;  first,  be-  I t i s dark i n s e v e r a l  because i t i s i n t e r n a l , second because i t i s i n t a n g i b l e  78.  and  t h i r d because t h e s o u l ' s darkness r e f l e c t s  rounding  God.  the mystery s u r -  We can know no more of t h e d i v i n e than our own  minds can c o n t a i n o f i t , y e t i n t h i s s t a t e of i s o l a t i o n man has o n l y God's companionship. Having e x p l o r e d C h r i s t ' s two n a t u r e s c r i b e s man's m o r t a l and immortal  t h e poet now des-  h a l v e s , though each i n a sense  c o n t a i n s the o t h e r , f o r C h r i s t was both man and God.  He says:  Two proud, b l a c k e d b r o t h e r s c r y , W i n t e r - l o c k e d s i d e by s i d e . . . . s y m b o l i z i n g t h e dead and g r a c e l e s s s t a t e where man's two h a l v e s e x i s t , and cannot t h e r e f o r e respond t o C h r i s t by e m u l a t i n g h i s compassion: 0 we who c o u l d not s t i r One l e a n s i g h when we heard Greed on man b e a t i n g near. . . . Unregenerate man remains a p a s s i v e c o n s p i r a t o r i n the stratagems of e v i l .  He i s s e l f - i m p r i s o n e d and i n e r t . He now i d e n t i f i e s contemporary man w i t h C h r i s t ' s m u l t i -  tudes.  L i f e , he would t e l l u s , imposes a c h o i c e :  whether we  s h a l l t u r n our f a c e s t o t h e w a l l when human s u f f e r i n g and e v i l c o n f r o n t u s , or whether we s h a l l show t r u e c h a r i t a s . At the c o n c l u s i o n , he d e p i c t s t h e r e s u r r e c t i o n of the C h r i s t l i k e nature of man:  Now  see, alone i n us,  Our own  true s t r a n g e r s ' dust  Ride through the doors of our unentered E x i l e d i n us we arouse the  house.  soft,  Unclenched, armless, s i l k and rough love that breaks a l l rocks. The'strangers' dust* r e f e r s to the p h y s i c a l a t t r i b u t e s of man's  79. C h r i s t l i k e nature, h i s i n e s c a p a b l e dust, and t h e r e f o r e t o the p h y s i c a l form the response  must take.  The 'house' i s the s o u l  which, s i n c e we are made i n C h r i s t ' s image, he n e c e s s a r i l y i n habits. ,  There f o l l o w s the awakening of d i v i n e l o v e i n man,  estranged  from God and l i v i n g i n e x i l e  here.  It i s a complex p i e c e d e a l i n g w i t h man's and C h r i s t ' s two natures and t h e i r r e l a t i o n t o each o t h e r . change has o c c u r r e d .  An i n t e r e s t i n g  The poetfcy has become both more dramatic  and more t r a n q u i l . A c c o r d i n g t o Merwin i n " V i s i o n and P r a y e r , " "he prays 52 that death may d i e indeed," a comment that r e c a l l s Donne's superb sentence  on death.  Stanford i s r i g h t , I b e l i e v e , i n disagreeing  the poem's r e l i g i o u s f e r v o r d e r i v e s from H e r b e r t ' s i n form i t c e r t a i n l y resembles.  Herbert's  "Wings", which  i n s p i r a t i o n stems  from the t r a d i t i o n a l C h r i s t i a n b e l i e f t h a t , without nothing, but t h a t he can a t t a i n b e a t i t u d e through  God, man i s  salvation.  Thomas sees s p i r i t u a l f u l f i l m e n t as the d i s c o v e r y of the god i n the s e l f .  I suspect that Herbert would have found h i s i n t e n s e l y  anthropomorphic r e l i g i o u s s e n s i b i l i t y s l i g h t l y  irreverent.  Instead, S t a n f o r d c i t e s M u r i e l Spark's e x p l a n a t i o n of the form, who observes  how "the v a r y i n g forms of the stanzas  and c o n t r a c t i o n of the f i r s t  the e x t e n s i o n  l i n e of each p a r t i n s e c t i o n one may  be taken t o r e p r e s e n t the spasms o f the womb attendant on d e l i v e r y . This i s a b r i l l i a n t l y By analogy  ingenious s u g g e s t i o n and may w e l l be c o r r e c t .  the form of the second s e c t i o n , composed of two t r i -  angles whose apexes converge a t the c e n t r e , may be s a i d t o r e present i n the form Ot a u t e r i n e anagram, the whole movement of  80.  l i f e , d w i n d l i n g down t o death's b o t t l e - n e c k and thence e x p a n d i n g , through a r e b i r t h , i n t o l i f e  eternal.  T h i s i s a much f i n e r sequence t h a n " A l t a r w i s e by o w l light."  Whereas the l a t t e r i s c l e v e r and a b s t r u s e , t h i s  w i t h incandescent passion. of  glows  I t speaks w i t h the i n f i n i t e r e s o n a n c e s  the inmost h e a r t and i t i s t o the h e a r t t h a t i t a p p e a l s . The b i r t h of the redemptive c h i l d , b o t h C h r i s t and the  C h r i s t i n man,  resembles a b l a z i n g  meteor:  And t h e winged w a l l i s t o r n By h i s t o r r i d crown And the dark thrown From h i s l o i n To b r i g h t Light. The b i r t h changes e a r t h ' s d a r k n e s s t o l i g h t and h i s l o i n S , s y m b o l i z ing  life,  impregnate the darkness w i t h t h e i r l i g h t , c h a r g i n g the  world w i t h a s h i n i n g s p i r i t u a l potency. Once moce t h e poet p a r t i c i p a t e s i n C h r i s t ' s human l i f e , as he w r i t e s : I s h a l l r u n l o s t i n sudden T e r r o r and s h i n i n g from The once hooded room Crying i n vain In the c a u l d r o n Of h i s Kiss. "The once hooded room" r e f e r s t o the v i r g i n womb, hooded w i t h i t s hymen.  He s u g g e s t s we a l l share i n C h r i s t ' s p h y s i c a l l i f e ,  as he s h a r e d i n o u r s .  just  The unique h i s t o r i c a l e v e n t , t h e r e f o r e ,  i s s t i l l r e c u r r i n g a l l over the w o r l d and i s the means by w h i c h the  poet r e c o n c i l e s the e x i s t e n t i a l o r d e r w i t h a s p i r i t u a l  vision.  81. In the next  sonnet he a f f i r m s C h r i s t ' s h e a l i n g p r o -  p e r t i e s more e x p l i c i t l y . while The  Redemption comes t o t h e poet,  erst-  ' l o s t ' and he i s b l i n d e d by the blood o f C h r i s t ' s wound.  image suggests  think,  t o t a l immolation,  t h a t a k i n d o f symbolic  but f u r t h e r , i m p l i e s , I  p h y s i c a l b i r t h occurs,  wounds o f C h r i s t being not o n l y a baptismal  the  f o n t , but a womb  from which the v o t a r y emerges c l e a n s e d and r e b o r n .  His blood  s i l e n c e s the c r y i n g mouth, n o u r i s h i n g the s o u l , parched from d e s o l a t i o n , p l u c k i n g the pursuant isolation.  o f grace from the d e s e r t o f  Through l o s i n g h i m s e l f i n C h r i s t , man In the next two  p i e c e s , the poet d e s c r i b e s the  of  human e x i s t e n c e !  the l a s t  of  p e r f e c t i o n b e f o r e the F a l l .  judgement and  a c t i v e here:  He a s s o c i a t e s h i m s e l f w i t h  both  t o death and  A complex i n t e l l e c t u a l c o u n t e r p o i n t i s  a l l c r e a t i o n i s engaged i n going hone t o God,  r e c o v e r l o s t p e r f e c t i o n , and man, pristine  poles  the o r i g i n a l s t a t e  and presents e x i s t e n c e as a movement from l i f e thence t o l i f e a g a i n .  finds himself.  a f t e r death,  to  can r e g a i n h i s  purity. C h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y , the focus now  a l t e r s , from an  o b j e c t i v e t o a s u b j e c t i v e v i s i o n , u s i n g the terms i n a p h i l o s o p h i c a l sense.  I n t h i s r e s p e c t , the sequence i s s t r u c t u r a l l y  comparable t o "There was Death now  a saviour."  becomes the f o c a l p o i n t .  inaugurated and m o d i f i e s the f i r s t ,  A second c y c l e i s  so t h a t , a l t h o u g h the  has a l r e a d y p o r t r a y e d an u l t i m a t e r e g e n e r a t i o n , he now  poet  realizes i t .  82. He speaks f o r the ' l o s t ' , a l l the l i v i n g e x i l e d from C h r i s t , and, as I have remarked,  uses a verse form t h a t embodies r e b i r t h : And the green dust And b e a r i n g The ghost From The ground L i k e pollen.  Having entered the land of death, he now speaks on beh a l f of the dead and e n t r e a t s t h a t C h r i s t may s u f f e r them t o s l e e p In the dark And deep Rock A w a k e No h e a r t bone But l e t i t break On the mountain crown where he asks the dead may escape the s u f f e r i n g s of c o n s c i o u s ness f o r , u n t i l t h e i r f i n a l r e s t o r a t i o n , b e t t e r they should s l e e p than l i e i n waking torment.  Not u n t i l the l a s t  s h a l l man's s p i r i t escape the consequences tinuance i n the wheel of d e s t i n y . w i l l otherwise haunt him. poet;  vision  of h i s e n s l a v e d con-  Memories of h i s past e x i s t e n c e  M o r t a l awareness i s unbearable t o the  e x t i n c t i o n i n death, which l e a d s t o o b l i v i o n through  e n t e r i n g i n t o C h r i s t ' s b e i n g , p r o v i d e s a r e l e a s e from the curse of  knowledge. Seen from a human s t a n d p o i n t , l i f e and death seemed  swathed  i n darkness, but C h r i s t e n t e r s the 'mazes' of death and  i r r a d i a t e s the s l e e p e r s ' n i g h t , as a f t e r h i s own death he descended  i n t o h e l l and r e l e a s e d from i t the s o u l s of men who  had d i e d before him.  Viewing h i s death, the poet expresses h i s  desire to return to earth.  83. But the l o u d sun C h r i s t e n s down The^sky. Am The  found.  visual pattern reinforces  ' C h r i s t e n s down' i s both the  the theme o f r e g e n e r a t i o n . sun  forming man's world through the him  and  C h r i s t , the  son,  trans-  baptism o f death and  carrying  under t h i s hemisphere o f e x i s t e n c e i n t o the dawn o f the  At the moment o f i n c e p t i o n ,  the  self-awareness comes to him  as he  'The  sun r o a r s a t the  figured  sun and  poet f i n d s h i m s e l f .  prayer's end  Complete  i s gathered i n t o the 1  next.  "One".  i s an a l l u s i o n t o the  trans-  the B i b l i c a l l i o n , which are both symbols o f  C h r i s t or a Messiah. It  i s a beautiful  of dark i n t o l i g h t and clarity.  life  I t would seem the  t i o n a f t e r the  p a i n and  come near the r e c o g n i t i o n h e a r t and  s i m p l y the  transformation  i n t o death r i n g s out w i t h m a g n i f i c e n t poet had  at l a s t discovered a  torment o f the  achievement must always be  o f one  sequence, where the  central period.  r e l a t i v e t n time. t h a t l i f e and  Such an  I doubt i f he  death are the  two  In other words, he has  not  but  snake  succeeded i n d i s -  c a r d i n g the n e g a t i o n t h a t l u r k s i n the t a b e r n a c l e o f h i s We  had  chambers  t h a t f u l f i l m e n t need not demand r e j e c t i o n ,  s l o u g h i n g o f f o f o b s o l e t e a t t r i b u t e s , as the  renews i t s s k i n .  resolu-  faith.  come next to the triumphant e l e g i e s , which rank  among h i s f i n e r poems. Though; i t i s immensely a f f i r m a t i v e , the  "A r e f u s a l t o Mourn  Death, by F i r e , o f a C h i l d i n London" seems t o me  good.  The  g e n t i a l and  apocalyptic  the  least  utterance, sustained at length, i s tan-  rhetorical.  In the  overblown gesture we  can  sense  84,  the poet's e x c r u c i a t i n g compassion, but I do not t h i n k t h a t , i n d e f l e c t i n g h i s spontaneous r e a c t i o n , he succeeds i n transcend= ing i t . He welcomes death's f i n a l i t y , he b e l i e v e s i t comes o n l y once.  f o r the good reason t h a t  His emphasis upon  accompanies a d e v a l u a t i o n of t h i s one,  after-life  but the e s c h a t o l o g i c a l  v i s i o n s i m p l y f a i l s t o i n c o r p o r a t e the c h i l d , and the h o r r o r , the sheer, p h y s i c a l h o r r o r , comes through u n c o n s c i o u s l y The m a j e s t y and the b u r n i n g of the c h i l d ' s A holocaust? 'burning'  in  death.  Maybe, but the j u x t a p o s i t i o n of 'majesty'  s e r v e s o n l y t o i n v a l i d a t e the h i g h r h e t o r i c a l  and note.  I do not t h i n k he has f a i l e d to v i s u a l i z e h i s o b j e c t , but missed r e c o g n i z i n g t h a t the l e a s t i n t r u s i o n of the p h y s i c a l f a c t s of the c h i l d ' s death must i n e v i t a b l y d i s c r e d i t the r e s t , as occurs when he i n t r o d u c e s an u g l y metaphor i n 'the long f r i e n d s . '  I t would  appear t h a t p o e t r y can o n l y r e c o n c i l e i t s e l f t o a c u t e , p h y s i c a l h o r r o r s by p r e s e n t i n g them w i t h naked t r u t h . both a l l o w the s h o c k i n g  Homer and  Shakespeare  to have i t s way.  A s i m i l a r s u b j e c t d e v e l o p s i n "Ceremony A f t e r a F i r e Raid."  I t s s t r u c t u r e moves i n the o p p o s i t e d i r e c t i o n ;  for,  whereas i n the p r e v i o u s p i e c e ; the a p o c a l y p t i c v i s i o n c o n t r a c t s i n t o a statement of the p a r t i c u l a r i n c i d e n t b e f o r e both are expanded i n some k i n d of a u n i f i e d r e l a t i o n s h i p , t h i s a p a r t i c u l a r episode life.  converts  i n t o a tremendous a f f i r m a t i o n of e t e r n a l  I t i s by f a r the f i n e r poem of the two.  s o r t i n g to f u l s o m e , windy h y p e r b o l e , c o n t r o l l e d and measured cadence.  I n s t e a d of r e -  here the poet speaks w i t h  85 He d e s c r i b e s the c h i l d as a type o f t h e phoenix, r i s i n g from i t s ashes and b e i n g r e b o r n , t r a n s f i g u r e d , through i t s death.  Y e t 'miracles cannot a t o n e  which we a r e a l l r e s p o n s i b l e .  1  f o r h i s death, f o r  T h e r e f o r e he asks  Forgive Us f o r g i v e Us your death. . . . as i f he were a d d r e s s i n g C h r i s t on b e h a l f o f e r r i n g man.  The  i d e n t i f i c a t i o n becomes even c l e a r e r i n A s t a r was broken Into t h e c e n t u r i e s o f the c h i l d . • . . which c o n t a i n s an a l l u s i o n t o the s t a r o f Bethlehem, whereby t h e Magi came t o t h e manger. been changed  But t h i s c h i l d o f e a r t h has h i m s e l f  i n t o a s t a r , pure fir,e and l i g h t .  The poet suggests we a r e a l l each o t h e r ' s keepers and we a r e a l l g u i l t y when an i n n o c e n t d i e s , e s p e c i a l l y through t h e d i r e c t r e s u l t o f a d u l t wars.  Moreover, none save our v i c t i m s  can f o r g i v e us and thus, when they r i s e r a d i a n t l y from t h e i r ashes, we must humbly sue t o them f o r r e p r i e v e . The end o f the f i r s t  part:  Love i s the l a s t l i g h t  spoken.  Oh  Seed o f sons i n the l o i n o f the b l a c k husk l e f t .  . . .  c o n t r a s t s the l i g h t r i s i n g from death, the r e c o n c i l i a t i o n o f l i f e ' s c o n t r a r i e s , w i t h the 'black husk' which the body has beoome.  But i t s b l a c k s t e r i l i t y i s n o t h i n g t o t h a t o f the  living  t r a n s g r e s s o r s among whom he numbers h i m s e l f . The iecond p a r t u n i t e s the c h i l d ' s d e a t h t o our f i r s t p a r e n t s , p h y s i c a l l y and s p i r i t u a l l y .  I t c o n c e n t r a t e s , as i t were,  86.  the  whole h i s t o r y of man w i t h i n the c h i l d ' s s k u l l .  r e p e a t s the f i r s t of  I t s death  death from which i t stems and as a consequence  which Man and woman undone, Beginning crumbled back t o darkness Bare as the n u r s e r i e s Of the garden of w i l d e r n e s s .  These l i n e s s i g n i f y the descent of l i f e whence i t had emerged.  i n t o the p r i m e v a l chaos  Death meant a r e t u r n t o unbeing, i n a  p h y s i c a l and s p i r i t u a l sense, but, p a r a d o x i c a l l y , death alone can r e s t o r e us t o the l o s t p a r a d i s e . two a s p e c t s of man:  Thomas i s c o n t r a s t i n g here  the p r i n c i p i u m i n d i v i d u a t i o n i s ,  which  emphasizes the uniqueness of each e n t i r y and i t s power t o redeem the  r a c e by becoming  contains a l l others. and i n d i v i d u a l ,  a h o l o c a u s t , and the n o t i o n that each Two  cycles  merge./.. -  ;  life  then, the cosmic  'myselves' b e i n g both.  The t h i r d s e c t i o n s o a r s out of the uncreated v o i d to which our elements r e v e r t - up t o the 'ultimate kingdom' where a l l l i f e  s h a l l conmingle i n v t t e r i n g  . . . f o r ever Glory, g l o r y g l o r y . . . . i n a triumphant paean when God's l i g h t s h a l l f i l l universe.  the e n t i r e  The s t r o n g l y sexual a s s o c i a t i o n s embedded i n the l a s t  e i g h t l i n e s are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the most i n t e n s e r e l i g i o u s p o e t r y , as can be seen i n the works of S t . John of the C r o s s , Crashaw and Hopkins. Once more the poet has s e t on f i r e the v o i d d e s p a i r a f f l i c t i n g the world of g e n e t i c p r o c e s s .  The thematic harmony  87  he e s t a b l i s h e s i s complex, but  I s h a l l not dwell upon i t , be-  cause though n e a r l y every poem i n the l a s t p e r i o d i s s t r i k i n g ly  individual,  the thematic p a t t e r n s tend t o be  L a s t i n t h i s group comes the f i n e s t , g e n t l e i n t o that good n i g h t , " ever wrote.  not  go  perhaps the most f i n a l p i e c e  i n e v i t a b l e assurance!  Promethean p l e a f o r the p e r s i s t e n c e of l i f e in spirit  "Do  I t seems to have been s t r u c k upon a s i l v e r  Every word r i n g s out w i t h  and  recurrent.  he  anvil!  I t i s a superb  and yet more  life  i t r e c a l l s the words of the dying Goethe:  'mehr  LichtI'  Though death's n i g h t may  be good, yet l e t us  pay  homage to the w i l l to s u r v i v e a g a i n s t doom, f o r as i t draws neai^ a l l our u n f u l f i l l e d p o t e n t i a l i t i e s  clamour f o r r e a l i z a -  t i o n and  a l l the r e g r e t s of what might have been and  futility  of our achievements p i l e on our heads.  t u r e s the t e r r i b l e i r r e v o c a b i l i t y the approach of death awakes and life  the knowledge that  individual tide.  tragic.  The whole weight of the poem i s thrown i n the  haps there i s nothing  cap-  of time, the urgency to l i v e  the t r a n s i e n c e of the f l e s h are  t o f i g h t the enemy who  the  Here he  leaves only a f o o t p r i n t w i t h i n the sweep of the  Waste of l i f e and  of  w i l l convert  struggle  'might' i n t o 'never'.  i n t h i s world more t r a g i c a l l y  than the superb d e f i a n c e of unavoidable doom.  Per-  compelling  Thomas's h e r o i c  stand d i f f e r s , however, from t h a t of c e r t a i n Anglo-Saxon poets f o r , whereas they were e x p r e s s i n g who  the c o n v i c t i o n s of a s o c i e t y  p r e f e r r e d death to ignominy, here i t i s the one human  88  chance t h a t let  i s at stake.  t h e human s p i r i t  No m a t t e r what t h e o d d s , he p r o t e s t s ,  be i n v i n c i b l e !  through the rags of h i s defeat! existential  predicament  as  that  the love  lying  Man t r i u m p h s  poems b e l o n g i n g  suspect  i n h i s destruction!  together  fashion,  celebrate  a r e "Into her  two w e d d i n g n i g h t s .  Francis  Scarfe  comments "A l i t t l e  body b u t an o b s e s s e d m i n d , " ^ point.  Obsessional h i s material  there  whilst  t o transcend  admixture sexual  Hamlet, are great  has w r i t t e n  I grant  u p s i d e down s t i l l  will  limit  i n Baudelaire.  o f i n v e r s i o n i n "defending:,hlm,  The  objective.  that,  plays  great  however  may t r a n s m u t e h i s p r o b l e m s i n t o a r t ,  i s a morbid imbalance  Christian  to libe-  but w r i t i n g that ex-  Baudelaire  u s e s them a s i t s m a t t e r .  o b s e s s i o n s he f a i l s  has f a i l e d  and T r o i l u s and C r e s s i d a  a writer  not a l i b e r a t e d  but the charge s u r e l y misses the  from h i s p e r s o n a l i t y ;  which r e v e a l obsessions,  successfully  reveals  w r i t i n g shows t h e a r t i s t  Measure f o r Measure  that  For instance,  probing  p r e s s e s o b s e s s i o n s may be c o m p l e t e l y  poetry  I  t h e s e poems must be r e c k o n e d among t h o s e where t h e  p o e t ' s a t t i t u d e t o sex has been c e n s u r e d .  law  sublime  down h e a d " a n d "On t h e M a r r i a g e o f a V i r g i n " , w h i c h , i n  somewhat D i o n y s i a c  rate  shine  H e r e t h e n he f i g h t s t h e  on i t s own t e r m s , w i t h a r a g e ,  prompts i t .  Two o c c a s i o n a l  L e t man's c o u r a g e  but t o c a l l  does n o t s t a n d  him.  Undoubtedly,  Eliot  invokes the  a diabolist  a  h i m on h i s f e e t .  r e a l weakness o f b o t h t h e poems i s t h e d i f f u s e  of a s p e c i f i c  intercourse,  a c t o f consummation w i t h a hymn upon  i n w h i c h t h e man a n d woman a r e r e d u c e d t o  89  symbols, so t h a t she i s 'everywoman' and he i s everyman, e p i t o m i z i n g the essence  of s e x u a l s a t i a t i o n .  It expresses a tendency of  of the times, where the a c t  'the always anonymous b e a s t ' has become d i s s o c i a t e d  individual personality.  The  poet p r e s e n t s i t as the u n i v e r s a l  p r i n c i p l e of o r g a n i c l i f e , where the mating of man e x i s t s on the c o l l e c t i v e l e v e l . may  from  Consequently,  and woman  the two l o v e r s  be d e s c r i b e d as Two sand-grains together i n bed, Head t o h e a v e n - c i r c l i n g head. . « .  t h e i r whole l i f e being poured attributes.  into their essentially  sexual  C o p u l a t i o n i s not a h i g h l y i n d i v i d u a l s u b j e c t .  L i k e e a t i n g , d r i n k i n g and e x c r e t i n g , i t i s simply a normal human f u n c t i o n .  In t h i s poetry, i t becomes a complement, a  p a r a l l e l t o and sometimes an e x p r e s s i o n of a s p i r i t u a l Thomas w r i t e s i n the language of e c s t a s y .  vision.  However, the c e l e -  b r a t i o n of sex i n a vacuum does not succeed here.  I f e e l that  the poet i s the f a s c i n a t e d s l a v e of h i s images and, though i n p l a c e s he w r i t e s b e a u t i f u l l y , the l a c k of s p e c i f i c focus s p e l l s failure.  Nonetheless,  standpoints, f i r s t dent to  the undertaking i s i n t e r e s t i n g from  because, so f a r as I know, i t has no  i n E n g l i s h poetry and,  second,  because l a t e r he was  two  preceable  c a s t a s i m i l a r emotion i n t o a more s u b s t a n t i a l form. I c e r t a i n l y do not admit the charge  merely  adolescent.  he was  being  A poet i s not o b l i g e d t o t r e a t sex under  the a e g i s of romantic  love;  i f he can impose order upon the  theme of s e x u a l i t y , much j o y t o him!  The g r e a t advantage of  90.  mythology i s i t s p r o v i s i o n of f i g u r e s who i n c o r p o r a t e i n s t i n c t u a l a t t r i b u t e s and, i n the l a t e r p i e c e s , where he succeeds i n u n i f y ing  h i s v i s i o n of sex, he uses q u a s i - m y t h o l o g i c a l n a r r a t i v e . "On the Marriage  "On a Wedding A n n i v e r s a r y ; "  of a V i r g i n " i s b e t t e r balanced  than  even so, i t tends t o sprawl.  Stanford remarks, "Her bed i s r e f e r r e d t o as the p l a c e where she •married alone*, s i n c e i n Thomas's work t h e r e i s no s i n g l e e x i s t e n c e , All  t h i n g s are n u b i l e and e n t e r i n t o c o n t a c t . "  does not go f a r enough.  T h i s i s so, but  The f u s i o n of the two suns;  or the g e n e r a t i v e p r i n c i p l e of p h y s i c a l l i f e ,  one the s t a r  ( a l s o t o be i d e n t i -  f i e d w i t h C h r i s t as i n " V i s i o n and P r a y e r " ) , the other, the dark sun of the p h a l l u s , ( a l s o t o be i d e n t i f i e d w i t h D i o n y s u s ) , i s important.  I t h i n k David A i v a z goes too f a r i n the o p p o s i t e  d i r e c t i o n when he w r i t e s ,  " I t i s the mystic who c o n s o r t s w i t h  God, who l i v e s i n the 'moment' 'unending* time,  although  . . i t i s the a r t i s t who c e l e b r a t e s without  'old* i n  participation,  'alone i n a m u l t i t u d e of l o v e s * , as C h r i s t w i t h the m u l t i t u d e . . . . The  s h i f t , then, i s not only from God t o man, but a l s o from the  one  t o the one-of-many, from c e l e b r a t i o n t o choice."'^"  evidence  I see no  i n the poem f o r suggesting i t c o n t a i n s a c o n t r a s t between  the mystic and the a r t i s t .  The r e f e r e n c e s t o C h r i s t are more  simply and more f a i t h f u D y e x p l i c a b l e :  Thomas by now  habitually  a s s o c i a t e s a l l human l i f e w i t h the s t o r i e s of Adam and Eve and Christ.  He draws a p a r a l l e l between the g i r l ' s v i r g i n i t y and the  m i r a c l e of the f e e d i n g of the f i v e thousand. admittedly marginal: tion.  T h e i r connexion i s  what they share i s a miraculous  prolifera-  E i t h e r was marvellous, though i n d i f f e r e n t ways.  However,  91.  if  i t i s the o b j e c t  of l e a r n i n g to e s t a b l i s h d i s t i n c t i o n s , the  purpose of wisdom i s to r e l a t e .  The  poet e x p r e s s e s the  notion  £  that s u p e r n a t u r a l lous.  Creation The  and  n a t u r a l a c t s of r e d u p l i c a t i o n are  i s one  stupendous m i r a c l e ,  A supernatural  masculine aspect of the g i r l , who  pervaded w i t h s a n c t i t y .  poet r e l a t e s the sun-god, A p o l l o ,  the act of sex.  C h r i s t , to the  of p r o c r e a t i v i t y , deflowers  i s thereby mated w i t h the sun  C h r i s t and Cupid are one.  and  male f o r c e , s y m b o l i z i n g  twin god  marvel-  and  the  Son  of  man.  I t i s always a d i v i n e f i r e t h a t burns  through v i r g i n i t y and  p h y s i c a l f u l f i l m e n t embraces the two  h a l v e s of our  the C h r i s t l i k e and  being:  woman, t h e r e f o r e , f u s i n g the  incarnate  s p i r i t u a l and  the  the D i o n y s i a c .  the d i v i n e p r i n c i p l e of  the sexual i n one  great  Man  and  generation,  sacrament.  In f u s i n g the s p i r i t u a l w i t h the animal, a process that i s t o go f u r t h e r i n h i s development, Thomas has ed i n r e c o n c i l i n g the t e n s i o n s light."  virtually  that e x i s t i n " A l t a r w i s e  by  owl-  C e r t a i n , probably unconscious, t r a c e s of O r i e n t a l r e l i g i o n  make themselves f e l t  i n h i s l a t e r work.  preceding poem which suggest the y i n and perhaps the K a l i and destructive,  There are elements i n the yang of Taoism, even  S i v a of the Hindu r e l i g i o n , c r e a t i v e  s p i r i t u a l and  sexual d e i t i e s , who  Though the poetry may  not  i n t o an  longer merely a v i c i o u s c i r c l e , but  changed i n t o an  image of the c o n t i n u a l e v o l u t i o n  harmony.  the image  the converse marks tremendous p r o g r e s s .  H i s world i s no  an u l t i m a t e  level  animal.  be wholly s u c c e s s f u l ,  poet's i n t e g r a t i o n of h i s e a r l i e r c o n t r a d i c t i o n s i n d i v e r s i t y and  and  embody every  of p r o c r e a t i v i t y , from the d i v i n e t o the p u r e l y  of u n i t y  succeed-  has  of l i f e  become towards  92.  Much c r i t i c i s m has been w r i t t e n on the f i r s t and of the three n a r r a t i v e p i e c e s we anust now Tale",  consider:  " B a l l a d of the Long-legged B a i t " and  i s r e l a t e d t o the miraculous,  "A  second  Winter's  "Lament", where sex  the s u p e r n a t u r a l and the  religious.  S e v e r a l c r i t i c s have remarked on the r e c u r r e n t d u a l i t y of Thomas.  D.S.  Savage, f o r i n s t a n c e , comments, " a l l Thomas's  poems are e r e c t e d from the double h i s understanding.  v i s i o n which i s the source of  . . . c a b a l l i s t i c p e r c e p t i o n of the world i t -  s e l f as of a metaphorical nature, i n t i m a t e l y r e l a t e d to the (59! a r t i c u l a t i o n of language." as we  I agree w i t h t h i s i n the main, f o r  have seen, word and world are i n t e r c h a n g e a b l e i n the p o e t r y .  Moreover, i t i s c e r t a i n l y t r u e t h a t h i s v i s i o n i s e s s e n t i a l l y metaphorical. Glyn Lewis i n t e r p r e t s the d u a l i t y somewhat d i f f e r e n t l y . He says, Thomas showed " d i f f i c u l t y two  i n a v o i d i n g an amalgamation of  t r a d i t i o n s - h i s d e v o t i o n a l h e r i t a g e and  o c c u l t philosophy to which he shows marked But why  the n o n - C h r i s t i a n  inclinations." ^ 0  should he wish t o a v o i d doing so, not t h a t I b e l i e v e the  statement  r e p r e s e n t s the r e l a t i o n s between the r e l i g i o u s  sophies c o n t a i n e d i n h i s work, very j u s t l y . ?  philo-  Moreover, there i s  a great d e a l of ambivalence i m p l i c i t i n the m a t e r i a l i t s e l f ,  as  must i n e v i t a b l y happen when a poet makes such e x t e n s i v e use of the subconscious  and  i t s symbols, which, l o n g a f t e r h i s concern  w i t h the former has abated,  continue to appear and impart  depth  t o h i s p e r c e p t i o n s of the world o u t s i d e h i m s e l f . "A Winter's he ever wrote.  T a l e " i s perhaps the most b e a u t i f u l poem  I t i s a s u p e r b l y d e l i c a t e , yet powerful, p a s t o r a l  93  n a r r a t i v e , e r e c t e d upon a pseudo-myth, which W.S.  Merwin examines  with r i g o r o u s f i d e l i t y t o Thomas's o r p h i c g i f t s .  "It contains,"  he says,  "most of the e s s e n t i a l elements of a mid-winter ceremony  of the r e b i r t h of the year. legend,  then we  ...  I f the poem was  based upon some  might suppose t h a t i n the o r i g i n a l r i t u a l the  real  6-9  s p r i n g came, and true, and  that the one-night v e r s i o n was  Very  I have no doubt that a Jungian c r i t i c might demonstrate  i n t e r e s t i n g a s s o c i a t i o n s with other c e p t i v e l y suggests t h a t the  'she b i r d ' .  s i m i l a r works. 60  Stanford  'he-bird* i n Whitman's "Out  C r a d l e E n d l e s s l y Rocking" may  "Eve  later."  of  per-  the  have i n s p i r e d Thomas to c r e a t e h i s  I t a l s o possesses s e v e r a l marked a f f i n i t i e s to the  of S t . Agnes," where two  l o v e r s f l y the winter  c o l d and  fuse  i n a great flame of l o v e , i n a t a l e which the poet i s at pains  to  s t r e s s belongs to remote a n t i q u i t y . The  resemblances t o Shakespeare's play i n c r e a s e our  joyment of Thomas's p i e c e .  In e i t h e r case a man  a f t e r a long p e r i o d of w i n t r y moreover d e p i c t a r e g e n e r a t i o n  i s p e r s o n a l and i s simply  wins h i s love  i s o l a t i o n , through a m i r a c l e ; i n which the seasons share.  d i f f e r e n c e s , however, are s t r i k i n g : vicarious expiation;  both The  the c e n t r a l theme of the  play  here the man's d e p r i v a t i o n  a f a c t of e x i s t e n t i a l e x i s t e n c e .  i n the p l a y the r e c o n c i l i a t i o n occurs  en-  i n and  Furthermore, whereas through time, i n the  poem i t demands the v i c t i m ' s death. The  landscape which the opening p a i n t s suggests  the man's s p i r i t u a l moribundity, but a l s o the white, and  first as yet  i n a c c e s s i b l e , p a r a d i s a l image of consummation and peace which f l o w e r s at the  end:  un-  94.  In the always d e s i r i n g c e n t r e of the white Inhuman c r a d l e and the b r i d e bed f o r e v e r sought By the b e l i e v e r l o s t and the h u r l e d o u t c a s t of l i g h t . D e l i v e r him, he c r i e d , By l o s i n g him a l l i n l o v e , and c a s t h i s need Alone and naked i n the e n g u l f i n g b r i d e , Never t o f l o u r i s h i n the f i e l d s of the white seed Or f l o w e r under the time dying f l e s h a s t r i d e . Man  i n time l i v e s alone and only when he i s r e l e a s e d from the  wheel of karma can love blossom.  He e x i s t s i n darkness, the  •hurled o u t c a s t of l i g h t ' , excluded from love and  illumination.  Thus the snowy landscape serves a double f u n c t i o n : the s t i l l  i t contains  f r o z e n lineaments of i d e a l l o v e , but a l s o r e f l e c t s the  s t a t e o f the man's mind.  He i s h i s world and h i s world i s him.  The next p a r t , w i t h i n f i n i t e beauty, cescribes the m i r a c l e . A magical s p r i n g comes t o the land, as the miraculous b r i d e  ap-  proaches : A she b i r d r o s e and rayed l i k e a burning b r i d e . A she b i r d dawned, and her b r e a s t w i t h snow and s c a r l e t downed.  >  She wears the c o l o u r s of p a s s i o n and p u r i t y - s c a r l e t and white. Now  the poet b i d s us use our senses as he begins t o p a i n t the  awakening of the whole world from a w i n t e r ages o l d , w h i l s t the 'she b i r d ' answers the prayer of the s u p p l i c a n t .  He f o l l o w s i n  her wake and hastens towards the death the consummation r e q u i r e s : In the f a r ago land the door of h i s death g l i d e d wide. . . She i s h i s death and i t s 'door' i s a l s o her and f u l f i l m e n t have become synonymous terms.  'womb'. One  So, death  cannot occur  without the o t h e r . For every man transcendent l o v e , who  there i s a 'she b i r d ' , an image of w i l l come t o i l l u m i n a t e the darkness of  95/  the s p i r i t .  Such l o v e asks the h i g h e s t s a c r i f i c e , a l i f e f o r  a l i f e , or a l i f e - i n - d e a t h f o r t r u e l i f e . s p e l l withers  But the  miraculous  and  The Back. . . .  springs wither  which i m p l i e s t h a t the s e a s o n a l t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o c c u r r e d o n l y f o r the ::supplicant. w i t h him.  As love drew near, h i s whole xvorld changed  But once he has passed beyond e x i s t e n c e t o a f i n a l  s e l f - f u l f i l m e n t , the o r d i n a r y w o r l d r e t u r n s t o our  consciousness.  At the end the poet d e s c r i b e s the consummation as h i s s o u l e n t e r s the  'she  bird : 1  . . . i n the f o l d s Of p a r a d i s e , i n the spun bud And She now  of the  world.  she rose w i t h him f l o w e r i n g i n her m e l t i n g snow.  emerges from her d i s g u i s e , a d e v i c e common t o s u p e r n a t u r a l  v i s i t o r s , and r e v e a l s h e r s e l f as the source of l o v e , as her snow melts and  the two  s p i r i t s fuse i n m y s t i c a l sexual  fulfilment.  The poet's v i s i o n can h a r d l y be t r a n s l a t e d i n t o c o n c e p t u a l  langu-  age, nor do I t h i n k the attempt to do so p r o f i t a b l e . T h i s i s an o b v i o u s l y b e a u t i f u l poem, a f a u l t l e s s t a l e , which S t a n f o r d somewhat o d d l y e v a l u a t e s :  fairy-  "As a work of a r t  i t i s p e r f e c t , as a human document j u s t a l i t t l e elementary," statement which i s both suspect and p e r p l e x i n g . a human document!  a  A work of a r t i_s  Perhaps he means i t s t e c h n i c a l s k i l l here s u r -  passes the v a l u e of i t s c o n t e n t . t r y i n g t o r e f u t e the charge;  I s h a l l not spread m y s e l f  s u f f i c e i t to say t h a t one  which we f i n d i n f a i r y - t a l e s i s e l e m e n t a l i s m .  in  quality  I f you happen t o  d i s l i k e them, then i t i s b e t t e r to admit a l i m i t a t i o n than to  96.  j u s t i f y a p e r s o n a l d e f i c i e n c y by  pejorative observation.  " B a l l a d of the Long-legged  B a i t " has been roundly con-  demned, l a r g e l y , I suspect, as a r e s u l t of m i s c o n c e p t i o n s .  The  poet here r e v e a l s the other aspect woman may r e v e a l t o the subconscious:  s i n and death.  I d e a l beauty n e c e s s a r i l y e n t a i l s i t s  o p p o s i t e and I b e l i e v e he i s remarkably  successful i n reconciling  them i n a c o n c l u d i n g harmony. Onceiimore,  he c r e a t e s h i s own myth.  gruesome, but then so are many o t h e r s .  Admittedly i t i s  As u s u a l , Olson w r i t e s  i l l u m i n a t i n g l y , when he says, "The B a l l a d of the Long-legged B a i t " ... has as i t s bare theme the n o t i o n that s a l v a t i o n must be won through m o r t i f i c a t i o n of the f l e s h .  . . . With the death of the g i r l , the  sea g i v e s up i t s dead, as f o r e t o l d i n R e v e l a t i o n s XX:13; turns,  Eden r e -  'A garden h o l d i n g t o her hand / With b i r d s and animals';  and the sea d i s a p p e a r s accomplishing the prophecy  of R e v e l a t i o n s  XXX:I ('and there was no more sea*) . . . t h e subduing of s e n s u a l d e s i r e becomes mysterious and c r u e l as the immolation of the g i r l , the s a l v a t i o n takes on the beauty and mystery of  the dead and the past from the s e a . "  of the r e s u r r e c t i o n  Elsewhere  he observes,  "We are h e l d i n constant suspense u n t i l the l a s t l i n e of the poem, for  u n t i l then we do not know what the a c t i o n i s , or who the  agents, or what the c i r c u m s t a n c e s . " ^  Henry Treece, who w i t h  S t a n f o r d condemns the p i e c e , remarks on a "suspected F r e u d i a n symbolism,  but a l s o the i n f l u e n c e of Rimbaud's Bateau  Ivre." ^ 6  'Suspected' seems t o me an u n w i t t i n g l y i r o n i c understatement I  97, Even Olson, I t h i n k , misunderstands the work. not d e p i c t the m o r t i f i c a t i o n of the f l e s h ; would seem the only way  I t does  on the c o n t r a r y , i t  t o overcome weakness, e v i l or enslavement  to some v i c e i s t o give i t f r e e scope, so t h a t the s o u l may through what i t f a l l s Stanford and  tedious.  rise  by.  and Treece censure the p i e c e , as  contrived  Though I once shared t h i s view, I have now  see the poem i n another l i g h t .  come t o  Having reached the p o i n t where I  b e l i e v e I understand at l e a s t i t s broad o u t l i n e s , I f i n d i t s t r a n g e ly  compelling. Psychologically, i t s a l l e g o r i c a l structure i s  the woman i s everyman's subconscious sexual t r a i l s through the sea of life> ^ o r g i a s t i c deflorescence,  simple:  p r o j e c t i o n s which he  subjectii% her  image to  the  indeed wholesale rape, which h i s d e s i r e s  would perform upon womanhood.  The  purpose of the voyage i s t o  overcome the lower mind's b e s t i a l attachments.  To be  purified,  i t s c o n t e n t s need t o be exposed, a f t e r which the abominable image can p e r i s h , and,  as the lower nature outgrows i t s f o u l e d  m y s t i c a l r e l e a s e and  consummation can b e g i n .  c l e a n s i n g of the s p i r i t .  Unfortunately,  rags,  This i s a r i t u a l  some have found i t s ex-  p r e s s i o n r e p e l l a n t , though there are passages i n G u l l i v e r ' s T r a v e l s and  T r o i l u s and C r e s s i d a  which s t r i k e me  as f a r more deeply  shocking. I t h i n k i t important to s t r e s s t h a t i n w r i t i n g t h i s poem Thomas was and  breaking  new  ground i n E n g l i s h poetry.  Siyjnbolic  a l l e g o r i c a l j o u r n i e s have a long enough h i s t o r y , but  E n g l i s h poet had t i v e focused  p r e v i o u s l y undertaken t o c r e a t e a p o e t i c  no narra-  upon the whole corpus of masculine s e x u a l i t y , which  98.  becomes transformed i n t o a f o r c e p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n a transcendent consummation. The  c o n c l u s i o n , however, d i f f e r s c o n s i d e r a b l y  ending of "A Winter's T a l e , "  from the  f o r whereas the l a t t e r d e p i c t s the  s a l v a t i o n of an i n d i v i d u a l , the former d e s c r i b e s of the prophecy of R e v e l a t i o n s .  the f u l f i l m e n t  The whole process o f sex has been  sublimated i n t o an e v e r l a s t i n g v i s i o n i n which the whole of human nature shares.  The l a s t s p r i n g i s e n d l e s s .  Man succeeds i n s l o u g h i n g  o f f h i s a n i m a l i t y , and he comes  home With h i s long-legged The  ' b a i t ' was nothing  movement of h i s higher  heart  i n h i s hand.  but the d e s i r e s r u n n i n g counter t o the s e l f towards p e r f e c t i o n .  t h a t by what we f a l l we r i s e i s e x e m p l i f i e d ]  Here the n o t i o n  It i s also perfectly  e i e a r t h a t Thomas does not advocate r e p r e s s i o n , but immersion i n the dark waters of the s p i r i t ' s depths.  H i s v i s i o n of man i s com-  p l e x , but i t s i n c l u s i v e n e s s , i t s r e f u s a l t o r e j e c t f a c e t s of nature, renders i t profoundly "Lament"  i s simpler  true.  than e i t h e r o f the two  p i e c e s and belongs t o a d i f f e r e n t n a r r a t i v e genre. symbolic nor a l l e g o r i c a l , but s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d Stanford  accords i t h i g h p r a i s e , s a y i n g ,  t h a t w r i t i n g from o u t s i d e  inconvenient  preceding  It i s neither  ethical fable.  " I t has t h a t o b j e c t i v i t y ,  the s u b j e c t , together  w i t h the a t t e n t i o n  to form and c l o s e rhyming, which the French (Parnassian) s c h o o l prescribed." ^ 6  of poetry  In no other r e s p e c t s does i t resemble a s c h o o l  d i s t i n g u i s h e d , perhaps above a l l ,  f o r i t s fastidiousness.  99. Each s t a n z a d e p i c t s a new stage i n the rake's p r o g r e s s , which the poet c h a r t s most c a r e f u l l y .  Here he p r e s e n t s the ob-  verse of s a l v a t i o n through m y s t i c a l s e x u a l consummation, namely, the d e s t r u c t i o n of man e n s l a v e d t o l u s t . s p i r i t darkens*  The body r o t s and the  As the body g a i n s i n c r e a s i n g ascendancy  the s p i r i t both s u f f e r  over  eclipse.  I r o n i c a l l y , reform i s f o r c e d upon the roue, who complains: C h a s t i t y prays f o r me, p i e t y s i n g s , Innocence sweetens my l a s t b l a c k b r e a t h , Modesty h i d e s my t h i g h s i n her wings And a l l the deadly v i r t u e s plague ray death! His  v i c e s have reduced him t o a s t a t e of such h e l p l e s s  t h a t , d e s p i t e h i m s e l f , he has r e t u r n e d t o the f o l d . full  inertia  The world i s  of u n w i l l i n g p r i s o n e r s of goodness and r e s p e c t a b i l i t y .  specimen  This  i s not t o be thought of as damned, simply as i r a s c i b l e ;  the f u l m i n a t i n g of a goat r e l i s h i n g h i s f o r n i c a t i o n s .  But i t  would be wrong t o underestimate the grim l i n i n g t o the humour. The poet d e s c r i b e s the d i s i n t e g r a t i o n w i t h unmitigated inciMemes^. One of the s i m p l e s t of h i s poems, i t i s a l s o among the most powerful. The next group we must c o n s i d e r c o n t a i n s some o f the f i n e s t p i e c e s of a l l . odes: "In  I t comprises the g r e a t e l e g i a c and p a s t o r a l  "Poem i n October",  country s l e e p " ,  " T h i s Side of the T r u t h " ,  "Over S i r John's h i l l " ,  and "In the white g i a n t ' s t h i g h " .  "Fern H i l l " ,  "Poem on h i s b i r t h d a y "  Many o f them e x h i b i t an almost  P r o u s t i a n n o s t a l g i a f o r c h i l d h o o d , evoking i t s iinocence, i t s j o y s , its  promise,  s e c u r i t y and s h e l t e r e d ignorance, f r e e from the  d e s o l a t e c a r e s of m a t u r i t y .  Looking back, as he f e e l s from h i s  autumn, he r e t u r n s t o h i s s p r i n g , which has become almost  100. unendurably  beautiful.  "Poem i n O c t o b e r "  describes a l i t t l e  m i r a c l e , how  the  weather . . . t u r n e d away f r o m t h e b l i t h e c o u n t r y And down t h e o t h e r a i r and t h e b l u e a l t e r e d s k y S t r e a m e d a g a i n a wonder o f summer With apples P e a r s and r e d c u r r a n t s And I saw i n t h e t u r n i n g s o c l e a r l y a c h i l d ' s F o r g o t t e n m o r n i n g s when he w a l k e d w i t h h i s mother Through the p a r a b l e s Of sun l i g h t And t h e l e g e n d s o f t h e g r e e n c h a p e l s These sudden i r r a d i a t i o n s a r e f r e q u e n t where t h e y for, In  occur r e t r o s p e c t i v e l y  unlike the  summer, s a v e  last  three l i n e s  spiritual  the poet  the  captures the essence  return. of  the  a l l i t s experiences, whilst  as d i s p a r a t e fragments.  for  man  Thus t o grow up means a  d i s i n t e g r a t i o n f o r w h i c h t h e r e a r e no  last  but  they are r e n d i n g l y poignant,  T h o u g h most o f t h e work p o s s e s s e s ity,  l a t e r work,  i n memory, c h i l d h o o d d o e s n o t  c h i l d ' s v i s i o n , which u n i f i e s they e x i s t  i n the  compensations.  a crystalline  t h r e e l i n e s have p u z z l e d some  clar-  critics:  0 may my h e a r t ' s t r u t h S t i l l be s u n g On t h i s h i g h h i l l i n a y e a r ' s t u r n i n g . Stanford ing  f o r another  knows, " ^ ing  quotes  but  Treece's year adds,  comment t h a t  of l i f e "There  i n the s t a b i l i t y may  to write only - i n Keats's  heart's affections Both they exhaust  and  the poet  a l s o be phrase  the T r u t h of  lines  of the w o r l d  t h e idea p r e s e n t o f  - from  "prayhe aspir-  'the h o l i n e s s o f  the  Imagination'."^  o b s e r v a t i o n s seem t o me  the meanings the  seems t o be  valid,  contain.  but  I do  I believe  not the  think poet  101. is  e x p r e s s i n g a fundamental paradox of h i s v i s i o n :  is  i n the world  as the world  i s i n the word.  A l l e x i s t e n c e i s an  image and the image i s the whole of c r e a t i o n . t h a t h i s i n s p i r a t i o n may he may  thereby  He  i s also pleading  l i k e the seasons renew i t s e l f and  be mingled w i t h them.  both the heart and  that the word  the h i l l  The  'high h i l l *  where he i s s t a n d i n g ;  that  r e f e r s to  i t i s the  t a b e r n a c l e of a r t as w e l l as a summit crowned w i t h memories. There i s the f u r t h e r p l e a t h a t h i s song may in  the coming year and, The  l a s t , t h a t i t may  endure as the  c o n c l u s i o n , which i s by no means simple,  the power of the i m a g i n a t i o n works may  remain a t t h i s  p r e v a i l over time.  to transform  height  hill. looks to  the f u t u r e t h a t h i s  As he contemplates the past and  s i d e r s h i m s e l f i n r e l a t i o n t o a p a r t i c u l a r p o i n t i n time and  conspace,  he throws the weight of h i s p u r e l y mortal a f f i r m a t i o n onto h i s creations. The destination.  c e n t r a l theme of "This Side of the T r u t h " The  poet's concern w i t h the tragedy  apart from e t h i c a l s o l u t i o n s renders To be aware i s to r e c o g n i z e  of e x i s t e n c e  i t s tone c h i e f l y  that l i f e  i s pre-  existential.  i s a death-sentence, though  , . . a l l your deeds and words, Each t r u t h , each l i e , Die i n unjudging l o v e . . . , p a r t i a l l y m i t i g a t e s the f a t a l i s m .  I do not t h i n k  'unjudging l o v e *  suggests the mercy of an i n d i s c r i m i n a t i n g a r b i t r a t o r , but a v i s i o n to  which a l l human conduct seems a r b i t r a r y .  envisage On cry  I t i s a mistake to  death as a judge s e p a r a t i n g the sheep from the  goats.  the c o n t r a r y , i t r e c o n c i l e s those very problems which seem to out f o r a r b i t r a t i o n .  102 The p i e c e r e v e a l s another s i d e of t h i s  affirmative  p e r i o d , which moves back and forward t o escape an i n t o l e r a b l e present.  Death i s a d e l i v e r a n c e and c h i l d h o o d an escape.  The  grown man, l i k e T a n t a l u s , "sees the water of l i f e r e c e d i n g be-  6a f o r e the holbw of h i s o u t s t r e t c h e d hand,""^  l i v i n g i n a void,  between r a d i c a l innocence and f i n a l r e s t o r a t i o n . rence f o r h i s immediate  Intense abhor-  e x i s t e n c e redoubles the poet's a f f i r m a t i v e  utterances. D.S. Savage f i n d s an "unexpected ity"^  9  i n "Fern H i l l " ,  d i f f u s i o n and p r o l i x -  "Poem i n October" and "A Winter's T a l e . "  Treece a l s o comments unfavourably on the f i r s t - n a m e d p i e c e , when he w r i t e s , " T h i s ' b o t a n i c a l urge' i s a r e a c t i o n towards a vegetable s t a t e , one of i n a c t i o n and e a r t h y complacence,  a contrast  between the m u t a b i l i t y of human p e r s o n a l i t i e s w i t h t h e i r  lies  and d e c e i t s , and the s t a t i c s a f e t y of the b o t a n i c a l w o r l d . "  V :  There may be some t r u t h i n what Savage says of i t , though none c o n c e r n i n g the two o t h e r s he c i t e s ; ment, however, s t r i k e s me as p e r v e r s e . the  Treece*s s t a t e -  The whole pathos l i e s i n  poet's s t i n g i n g r e a l i z a t i o n that he cannot r e t u r n t o c h i l d -  hood.  Were t h i s l a c k i n g then we might w e l l i n d i c t him f o r s e n t i -  m e n t a l i t y , but there i s n o t h i n g s p i n e l e s s or lachrymose i n h i s a s t o n i s h i n g r e c r e a t i o n of a c h i l d h o o d scene, w i t h such s u b t l e understanding of a c h i l d ' s mind t h a t each of us must s u r e l y exc l a i m , "Yes, I have been here t o o l "  T h i s the time when v i s i o n i s  magical and the i m a g i n a t i o n a b s o l u t e , when the s p i r i t u a l and n a t u r a l worlds are one, as expressed i n And the sabbath rang s l o w l y In the pebbles of the holy streams.  103.  But the f i g u r e of time Jooms always l a r g e r , p e r s i s t e n t ,  increas-  i n g and q u i t e i n e l u c t a b l e , u n t i l the c h i l d e x p e r i e n c e s over a g a i n the f i r s t F a l l .  In the l a s t s t a n z a i t s t r a g i c consequences  come  home t o r o o s t : And wake t o the farm f o r e v e r f l e d from the c h i l d l e s s l a n d . Oh as I was young and easy i n the mercy of h i s means, Time h e l d me green and d y i n g Though I sang i n my c h a i n s l i k e the sea. Does the c h i l d f l e e the farm or the farm the c h i l d ?  Both.'  Man's  c h a i n s are h i s p h y s i c a l e x i s t e n c e , bounded by b i r t h , death and physical f i n i t y .  But h i s song i s e t e r n a l .  Perhaps i t i s the only  c o n s o l a t i o n the poet knows t o s a l v e on i t s own cognizance of the e a r t h l y c o n d i t i o n .  terms h i s s t e r i l e  He c o u l d not r e s i g n h i m s e l f  t o the grave d e p r e s s i o n of E l i o t , nor the weather-beaten of F r o s t , nor l i k e Pound keep h i s f a i t h i n l i f e h i s energy a g a i n s t o b j e c t s of h a t r e d .  wisdom  i n t a c t by  directing  H i s human v u l n e r a b i l i t y  i s omnipresent and, as the pressure of the present grows s t r o n g e r , we  f e e l the e f f o r t of the s o u l t o f r e e i t s e l f from i t s c h a i n s . "In country s l e e p " i s a prayer f o r the continuance o f  a child's protective f a i t h .  The poet t r i e s t o e x o r c i s e from her  mind v a r i o u s t e r r o r s and comforts her w i t h the reminder  that  C h r i s t , here synonymous w i t h the angel of death, w i l l not f a i l f o r " t h i s n i g h t he comes and n i g h t without end,"  her,  not as a f i g u r e  charged w i t h vengeance and winged w i t h t e r r o r , but as the hand o u t s t r e t c h e d t o us from the heart of darkness.  Above and beyond  a l l C h r i s t ' s mercy b r e a t h e s . The poem i s l e s s concerned w i t h the innocence and dom  free-  of c h i l d h o o d than w i t h the other s i d e of i t s i m a g i n a t i o n ; i t s  terrors.  I t s f a i t h i s i t s e l f a defence a g a i n s t chaos, but i t r e -  q u i r e s d i v i n e magic t o b a n i s h the b l a c k magic t h a t a s s a i l s the tender  mind* Stanford complains that there i s a "slackening of 71  s p i r i t u a l tension" and a "greater emphasis on descriptive, as opposed to expressive, writing. . . . and the c u l t i v a t i o n of 72  exterior surfaces, as distinguished from inner essences." I l a c k the time to answer t h i s charge i n d e t a i l , but I think i t worth observing that i t seems t o me he misses the sheer v i t a l p r o l i f e r a t i o n and the relaxed delicacy of the l i n e s .  It i s  possible to maintain that Thomas evolved from writing the poetry of  tension to the poetry of relaxation and that i f the  suffers from coagulation the second i s inconcise;  first  however, to  state c e r t a i n tendencies as i f they were the predominant i s simply misrepresentation.  traits  We do not value people as i f we  were compiling a l i s t of assets;  nor do we derive much i l l u m i n a -  t i o n from composing catalogues of an author's q u a l i t i e s as i f he were a shopping l i s t . A much f i n e r poem, ing  "Over S i r John's H i l l " i s , accord-  to Gid Corman, concerned "with the quality of mercy."^^  But I prefer to follow Olson who  says  and the heron i s c a l l e d 'holy'. • • . Thomas's comparison of the execution;  "the h i l l Is called  'just  1  these terms derive from  events taking place to a t r i a l  and  the h i l l i s just because i t i s a judge, and i t i s a  judge because, l i k e a judge pronouncing the death sentence, i t puts on a black cap  -  i n t h i s instance a black cap of jackdaws.  The hawk i s seen as the hangman. • . . 7k or p r i e s t . "  The heron i s the chaplain  105  The  poem might be d e s c r i b e d  as an extended m e t a p h o r i c a l  analogy between human and n a t u r a l j u s t i c e , both of which are r e l a t e d t o the d i v i n e j u r i s d i c t i o n which p r e s i d e s over them". The poet asks i f i t i s p o s s i b l e t o r e c o n c i l e the world's anomalies w i t h an u l t i m a t e i t must.  tribunal.  He shows that each e n t i t y a c t s as  So he i s able t o c r y A l l p r a i s e o f the hawk on f i r e i n hawk-eyed dusk be sung, When h i s v i p e r i s h fuse hangs looped w i t h flames under the brand Wing. . . . .  lor  the hawk i s no l e s s a p a r t of the order trian h i s v i c t i m s on whom  the poet invokes mercy i n It i s , the heron and I, under j u d g i n g S i r John's elmed H i l l , t e l l - t a l e the k n e l l e d Guilt Of the l e d - a s t r a y b i r d s , whom God, f o r t h e i r breast of whistles^ Have mercy on, God i n h i s w h i r l w i n d s i l e n c e save, who marks the sparrows haily For t h e i r s o u l s ' song. To a c u r s o r y  glance t h i s may seem sour j u s t i c e , f o r what i s the  ' g u i l t * o f **he b i r d s ? order.  Since  It i s their hereditary  legacy  from a f a l l e n  t h i s i s a u n i v e r s a l sentence, we cannot t r u l y con-  demn the p r e d a t o r s ,  f o r not only  ale./theyi as s u r e l y doomed as  t h e i r v i c t i m s , but t h e i r a c t s of d e s t r u c t i o n a r e a c o n d i t i o n necessary t o the f u l f i l m e n t o f the n a t u r a l law. Nature, the poet says, c o n t a i n s is inevitable;  i t s own c o u r t .  i t i s not merely an e x p r e s s i o n ,  p a r t , of her e x i s t e n c e . In a word, he simply Instead  The p a t t e r n o f nature's d e s t r u c t i o n  of a s k i n g  but an inherent  That t h i s i s so c o n s t i t u t e s i t s j u s t i c e .  reverses  the question  i f the n a t u r a l order  t o provide  the answer.  can be j u s t i f i e d , he  suggests that j u s t i c e c o n s i s t s o f the course e x i s t e n c e  follows.  106  In  "Poem on h i s b i r t h d a y " he e x p l o r e s t h e v e r y h e a r t o f  the n e g a t i o n from which h i s a f f i r m a t i o n s p r i n g s .  He has now  t u r n e d h i s back upon t h e p a s t , s e e k i n g no l o n g e r a r e f u g e i n c h i l d h o o d whose b r i e f r e s p i t e but r e d o u b l e d of r e a l i z a t i o n . eternity.  the subsequent p a i n  I n s t e a d he has s e t h i s f a c e toivards death and  H i s n e g a t i o n of any p e r s o n a l p r e s e n t has become i n t e n s i -  f i e d , t h e a f f i r m a t i o n l i k e w i s e has grown more m a g n i f i c a n t .  There  are p l a c e s i n t h e poem where he comes c l o s e t o a c h i e v i n g the c r u c i f i e d ecstasy of R i l k e ' s Duiniser E l e g i e n ,  where "thought  ceases t o be merely thought and p o e t r y i s no l o n g e r m e r e l y p o e t r y . ' Song, t r y i n g t o prove t h e g l o r y , and thought,  determined t o dis= 75  pel  the i l l u s i o n , are adventurers  i n the same h e r o i c saga."  By a stupendous leap o f t h e i m a g i n a t i o n , Thomas reaches v i r t u a l l y the same s t a t e o f sublime  tension.  The p r e s e n t , he f i n d s , i s  i l l u s o r y , but he cannot deny i t w i t h t h e f a c i l i t y o f t h e M i d d l e Ages, when man, h a v i n g r e j e c t e d l i f e , was a b l e t o enjoy i t . cannot a t t a i n p e r s o n a l happiness through  He  t h e a c t of r e j e c t i o n ;  t h i s o n l y a l l o w s him t o p r o c l a i m t h e m a r v e l l o u s p e r s i s t e n c e of l i f e as a whole. He i s a c u t e l y c o n s c i o u s o f h i s own ' r u i n ' and t h e odour o f death  l i e s upon t h e whole p i e c e .  I t i s t h e work of an a r t i s t  s t r o n g l y c o n s c i o u s t h a t he i s moving towards h i s end.  But, the  c l o s e r t h e body moves towards death, t h e l o u d e r t h e s p i r i t or,  exults;  t h e sharper h i s sense of p e r s o n a l d i s a s t e r t h e more b r i l l i a n t  s h i n e s t h e sun of l i f e . In t h e kingdom o f death t h e r e i s peace, i n . . . h i s nimbus b e l l c o o l kingdom come And t h e l o s t moonshine domes. . . .  107 T h i s i s the land of the "Our filled. light  F a t h e r " , where the prayer i s f u l -  I t i s a l s o a p l a c e of r e c o v e r y , where man  l o s t through  the ever r e c u r r i n g F a l l .  At the c l o s e he s a i l s out acceptance  of h i s f a t e .  He now  from the e x i l e and darkness man  who  r e g a i n s the  'out t o d i e ' , w i t h complete  embraces h i s death as a d e l i v e r e r  of l i f e .  T h i s i s the u t t e r a n c e of a  f e e l s t h a t he has n e a r l y reached  the end of h i s own  re-  sources. Death has become the servant of the D i v i n e , and  man  though composed of Four elements and Senses i s a l s o 'a s p i r i t  i n l o v e ' , who  five r e c o g n i z e s h i s doom, but  transcends  i t , w i t h a s p i r i t u a l splendour which c o u l d not e x i s t without awareness of h i s f a t e . l i m i t a t i o n s charges than the sum  The  s o u l ' s transcendence  i t s defeat i n t o a v i c t o r y .  of h i s circumstances;  b e s t r i d i n g the r u i n s of h i s own  the  of i t s mortal Man  i s here more  he i s the t r a g i c p r o t a g o n i s t ,  nature.  captures here the i s o l a t i o n and heroism  How  superbly the poet  of man  no longer immured  i n G o t h i c c e r t a i n t i e s , no longer swaddled i n c o l l e c t i v e nor s h e l t e r e d by F i n i t e s and A b s o l u t e s ;  unisons,  but i n s t e a d , alone, naked,  v u l n e r a b l e , confused, doomed, yet r e f u s i n g t o be p u l v e r i z e d i n t o nihilism.  The midwife of such an a f f i r m a t i o n i s anguish, but i t s  being i s r a d i a n t . "In the white g i a n t ' s t h i g h " i s the l a s t of t h i s group. I t completes one aspect of the poet's s p i r i t u a l e v o l u t i o n and i t s v i s i o n u n i t e s the past and f u t u r e w i t h i n an e t e r n a l p r e s e n t . S t a n f o r d c o n s i d e r s i t "a superb e r o t i c po@m. . . .  A  108. f a n t a s y which t e l l s the t r u t h concerning  man's p e r e n n i a l s e x -  hunger and woman's p e r e n n i a l need f o r c h i l d r e n . . . . a r e s p l e n dant and f i t t i n g d r o p - c u r t a i n t o the poet's p e r s i s t e n t saga of sex."  S e t t i n g a s i d e the v u l g a r i s m  s i d e r these statements. almost e x t r a v a g a n t l y  'saga of sex*, l e t us con-  The poem i s c e r t a i n l y e r o t i c , i n p l a c e s  sexual.  Moreover, i t undoubtedly does focus  upon the p e r s i s t e n c e a f t e r death of t h e p r o c r e a t i v e a p p e t i t e s , which i t changes without destroying, them. however, any a p p r e c i a t i o n of the strange  The statement omits,  conjunction  the poet  e f f e c t s between g h o s t l y and p h y s i c a l love o r i n s t i n c t u a l urge. Though dead, the women r e t a i n t h e i r sexual d e s i r e s , P l e a d i n g i n the waded bay f o r the seed t o flow Though the names on t h e i r weed grown stones are r a i n e d away. . . . "Waded bay" r e f e r s both t o the lake of death through which the newly dead must pass and t o the womb i t s e l f , once impregnated w i t h the seed.  The a s s o c i a t i o n of 'sefed' w i t h  l i f e and ' r a i n *  w i t h death a t t e s t s t h e i r l o s s , f o r whereas the former once t h e i r bodies,  now only the r a i n beats down upon stones.  from t h i s standpoint,  death becomes an i n f i n i t e  filled  Seen  n i g h t of l o n g i n g  and r e g r e t s , where the s p i r i t remains a c u t e l y conscious of p h y s i c a l needs which a r e deprived joyed  in life.  The s o u l remains, but i t s e x i s t e n c e c e n t r e s round  its  physical losses.  its  flesh. The  ing  I t i s therefore s t i l l  emotionally  bound t o  second p a r t of the poem r e s o l v e s the r i d d l e , mov-  from the s e x u a l i t y of l i f e  death.  of the s a t i s f a c t i o n they en-  to i t s transformation  In d e s c r i b i n g the f i r s t ,  through  the poet g i v e s f r e e r e i n t o an  u n b r i d l e d c e l e b r a t i o n of abundant i n s t i n c t , where he w r i t e s :  109. Or w i t h t h e i r orchard man i n the core of the sun's bush Rough as cows' tongues and thrashed with brambles t h e i r buttermilk Manes, under h i s quenchless summer barbed g o l d t o the bone.., Body, landscape and season a r e admirably i n t e r l a c e d i n a harmony, glowing w i t h the sheer v i t a l i t y of animal l i f e .  But the mood  changes a b r u p t l y w i t h Now curlew c r y me down t o k i s s the mouths of t h e i r dust. ... where,Iboking his  forward t o death, the poet asks the curlew t o s i n g  requiem and perhaps n u p t i a l r i t e s i n the m u l t i p l e consummation  he e n v i s a g e s .  He a l s o begs the dead women may i n i t i a t e him i n t o  the second k i n d of love i n Teach me the l o v e that i s evergreen a f t e r the f a l l Grave. . . . implying a l o v e , unknown t o the l i v i n g , which blossoms death.  leaved  after  The c l o s e of the poem r e i n f o r c e s t h i s s u g g e s t i o n , w i t h . . . t o these Hale dead and d e a t h l e s s do the women of the h i l l Love f o r ever m e r i d i a n through the c o u r t e r s ' t r e e s And the daughters of darkness flame l i k e Fawkes f i r e s  The r e c o n c i l i a t i o n he e f f e c t s i s by now f a m i l i a r :  a f t e r the d i s -  i n t e g r a t i o n of death a r e i n t e g r a t i o n o c c u r s , by which tie of  life  still.  elements  c o a l e s c e i n t o a new p a t t e r n of e x i s t e n c e . Nonetheless, the p i e c e i s u n s a t i s f a c t o r y , because the  p h i l o s o p h i c a l s y n t h e s i s of the ending simply f a i l s t o convince the i n t e l l e c t that death can surpass l i f e p h y s i c a l terms.  upon the l a t t e r ' s  Here death remains a n i g h t which does not b a n i s h  the sweet r e c o l l e c t i o n of l i f e ' s summer, w i t h i t s l u s t y , exuberance.  Granted t h a t h i s attempt  fertile  to discover a timeless  f l e s h l y and s p i r i t u a l harmony r e p r e s e n t s a f u r t h e r stage i n  110 h i s evolution, I f e e l the r e s u l t i s so v a s t l y i n f e r i o r to the superb affirmation of the preceding poem as to disappoint the reader.  Though written before i t ,  p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y t h i s piece  represents the ultimate point i n the development of the poet's v i s i o n , which i n a muted close at l a s t reconciles the body and s o u l , l i f e and death, time and e t e r n i t y . Three poems s t i l l remain to be discussed: back i n the Park," Prologue".  "In my Craft or Sullen A r t "  "The Hunch-  and  "Author's  None belongs wholly within the groups examined so  f a r , but each seems to me s u f f i c i e n t l y important i n the poet's t o t a l evolution to warrant i t s i n c l u s i o n . In common with many modern writers, much love on the victims of b i r t h and society, of his contemporaries,  Thomas expends but, unlike some  he avoids the mistake of turning them  into symbols on which to drape archetypes.  Instead, he paints  a very touching contrast between t h i s man's physical deformity and the beauty of his imagination, which creates 'from his crooked bones' an i d e a l of surpassing l o v e l i n e s s .  The essential  fact i n his predicament Is h i s t o t a l i s o l a t i o n , a l o v e l e s s , friendless existence, whose needs can only express themselves through fantasy.  At night he goes to bed  To h i s kennel i n the dark. But his s p i r i t r i s e s above the i n j u r i e s and i n f i r m i t i e s chance has i n f l i c t e d upon him.  Stanford's assertion,  the cripple "does  not stand up to things" ' strikes me as f a l s e .  His physical de-  77  fects do not, I think, symbolize a s p i r i t u a l spinelessness, the essence of the whole piece l i e s i n the contrast between  since  111. the body's malformation spirit.  and  the beauty of t h i s poor c r e a t u r e ' s  H i s imagination i s as b e a u t i f u l as i t s p r o j e c t i o n !  L i k e "The  hand t h a t signed the paper", i t i n d i c a t e s a d i r e c t i o n  the poet d i d not take i n h i s v e r s e .  C u r i o u s l y , both p i e c e s are  f a v o u r i t e s with a n t h o l o g i s t s , though the l a t e r at l e a s t , d e s p i t e i t s admirable  q u a l i t i e s , does not seem t o me  most powerful works.  one  of Thomas's  Both are i n a sense more c o n v e n t i o n a l  than  most of h i s poems i n t h e i r r e a d i l y comprehensible o u t l i n e s and their relative simplicity.  Both, moreoever, share not only  o b j e c t i v i t y , but a high degree of self-detachment their creator.  The  on the p a r t of  p i e c e c o n s i d e r e d above, however, shares  c e r t a i n other l a t e r works a s t r i k i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c : t i v e power of the i m a g i n a t i o n triumphing order.  thematic  As i n Keats,  over the  with  the a f f i r m a -  existential  i t seems charged w i t h a d i v i n e immanence,  a s a n c t i t y , a sacramental  wonder.  "In my C r a f t or S u l l e n A r t " m a n i f e s t s  the poet's  atti-  tude towards h i s a r t and r e v e a l s h i s purpose i n communication. It d e f i n e s h i s purpose mostly c o n c l u d i n g w i t h a p o s i t i v e statement. d i s c l a i m s commerciality  by e x c l u s i o n , each verse In the f i r s t stanza  and e x h i b i t i o n i s m and  he  t e l l s us he w r i t e s  on behalf of the l o v e r s , . . . l o r the common wages Of t h e i r most s e c r e t h e a r t . . . . namely, f o r l o v e . and  He proclaims h i m s e l f as the l o v e r s ' v o i c e ,  t h e r e f o r e as the champion of the elemental  and the u n i v e r s a l :  the unchanging human h e a r t . In the second stanza, he d i s c l a i m s any  interest in  112. addressing  h i m s e l f t o the i n t e l l e c t u a l e l i t e , t h e s e l f - a p p o i n t e d  h i g h - p r i e s t s o f a r t and thus t o a l l those who stand apart  from  t h e i r fellow-men and women, as detached observers i n t h e wings of destiny.  Nor does he w r i t e t o outshine  o r emulate t h e great  dead, as an i m i t a t o r o r v a i n a s p i r a n t t o i m m o r t a l i t y , But f o r t h e l o v e r s , t h e i r arms Round t h e g r i e f s o f t h e ages, Who pay no p r a i s e o r wages Hor heed my c r a f t o r a r t . He  i s t h e f o r c e , then, t h a t a r t i c u l a t e s t h e s e c r e t s i l e n c e s o f  mankind's h e a r t . him  He speaks f o r and t o those who c a n never hear  p r e c i s e l y because they a r e the mass o f s u f f e r i n g , t o i l i n g  humanity, but though t h e i r l i v e s may be most dumb, they a r e a l s o the most human.  They enshrine  t h e t r u t h s t h a t time and f a s h i o n  do not corrode o r t a r n i s h . He aim  emphasizes the p a r a d o x i c a l nature o f h i s a r t ; i t s  i s u n i v e r s a l i t y , but the more c l o s e l y i t approximates t o t h i s  c o n d i t i o n , t h e f u r t h e r removed i t becomes from i t s audience, f o r the good reason t h a t the most u n i v e r s a l o f a l l audiences i s t h e least literate.  But he means more:  he i m p l i e s t h a t the o b j e c t  o f h i s a r t i s t o rend t h e v e i l s o f t h e mystery o f l i f e ,  t o give  tongue t o those great dumb depths which l i e below and beyond language and form the e t e r n a l t r u t h s o f e x i s t e n c e . The race's  a r t i s t himself i s i s o l a t e d .  Though he i s t h e  spokesman, h i s unique f u n c t i o n marks him o f f from h i s  f e l l o w men and women.  Though immensely r e v e a l i n g a r t i s t i c a l l y ,  the p i e c e i s not e n t i r e l y s a t i s f y i n g . rhetorical;  I t i s a l i t t l e too  Its disclaimers just a t r i f l e  grandiose.  113. Our a n a l y s i s of the poet's development "Author's P r o l o g u e , "  a hymn t o c r e a t i o n , where he a s s e r t s h i s  communion w i t h a l l other l i f e , v a r i o u s ways;  d e f i n i n g h i s r e l a t i o n to i t i n  i n terms of time  (season), p l a c e (Wales) and  nature (body and s o u l ) , both as man an a p o l o g i a , a f i n a l  concludes w i t h  and a r t i s t .  I t i s i n a sense  statement:  At poor peace I s i n g To you s t r a n g e r s (though song Is a b u r n i n g and c r e s t e d a c t , The f i r e of b i r d s i n The world's t u r n i n g wood For  my  sawn, s p l a y sounds). . . .  He here c o n t r a s t s the s t a t e of the a r t i s t  w i t h the nature of song.  He h i m s e l f i s poor i n peace, but h i s a r t i s a burning b i r d f l a m ing  out of the darkness of the world's wood i n which he c a r v e s  his  language. The a c t of p o e t i c c r e a t i o n takes p l a c e i n the temporal  c y c l e , but transcends i t .  Poetry a s p i r e s t o e t e r n i t y ,  s t r e t c h e s up towards the D i v i n e . the  and  I t s e t s the poet a l i g h t w i t h  f i r e of d e a t h l e s s being and t h e r e f o r e c o n s t i t u t e s a k i n d of  s a l v a t i o n f o r him. The d r i v i n g f o r c e behind the i n s p i r a t i o n i s the t e n s i o n t h a t e x i s t s between m a n - a s - a r t i s t , who  stands f o r l o v e , and the  a r t i s t - a s - m a n , who r e p r e s e n t s : . . . the fountainhead Of f e a r , rage r e d , manalive, Molten and mountainous t o stream Over the wound a s l e e p Sheep white hollow farms To Wales i n my arms. His  human f e a r and rage are changed by a r t i n t o l o v e , which  spreads  a c r o s s the land and extends i t s embrace t o i n c l u d e the whole e a r t h .  114. The in  first  the second p a r t he h i m s e l f  of h i s v i s i o n . and  p a r t of the poem d e s c r i b e s  becomes i n t e g r a t e d w i t h the  and  objects  As a r e s u l t of t h i s metamorphosis, the macrocosm  microcosm blend as he d e s c r i b e s  as man  the poet's world;  a r t i s t , he  the t w o f o l d  journey which,  undertakes:  My ark s i n g s i n the sun At God speeded summer's end And Both the  the f l o o d flowers  'ark' and  the  now.  ' f l o o d ' are m u l t i p l e symbols, whose  a s s o c i a t i v e ranges are too s e l f - e v i d e n t t o r e q u i r e comment. world or human l i f e may  The  be seen as a f l o o d through which the  human ark f l o a t s t o s a f e t y , f o r a f t e r the time of  tribulation  and wandering the s i g n of the rainbow s h a l l be set upon the forehead of the We  sky.  have seen that time and  again  the poet s t r e s s e s that  the s o l u t i o n i s not t h a t as opposed t o t h i s , but both. of t r a n s f o r m a t i o n  present  moment of e t e r n i t y i n a magical pause when the  suddenly stands s t i l l  recede f o r universe  in perfection.  H e l l e r quotes R i l k e ' s c r i t i c i s m of modern . . . Aber Lebendige machen a l l den F e h l e r , dass s i e zu s t a r k He  continues,  "But  r e a l denunciation t h a t our  man:  unterscheiden. (First E l e g y )  t h i s i s an e l e g i a c understatement of implicit  t r a d i t i o n a l way  the whole range of our cendence and  act  d i s s o l v e s the c o n t r a r i e s , r e s u l t i n g i n the  b r i e f suspension of c o n f l i c t , when past and one  One  7 8  the  i n R i l k e ' s mature work, which i s  of d i s t i n g u i s h i n g i s f a l s e throughout  fundamental d i s t i n c t i o n s between t r a n s -  immanence, God  and man,  man  and  things,  external  115. r e a l i t y and inwardness, j o y and s u f f e r i n g , communion of love and s e p a r a t i o n , l i f e ate  andcfeath.  Thomas too t r i e d t o o b l i t e r -  the d i s t i n c t i o n s which make chaos of l i f e ' s meaning and much  of  h i s o b s c u r i t y r e s i d e s i n the s t r a n g e l y c o r r e l a t i v e c h a r a c t e r  of  his vision.  We, who are so used t o t a b u l a t i o n s , are sometimes  b l i n d at i n t e g r a t i n g  things.  We have attempted t o r e c o r d three main stages i n the poet's e v o l u t i o n , i n each of which he t r i e d t o a t t a i n t h a t miraculous moment of peace, though he c o n t i n u a l l y changed h i s world by a l t e r i n g i t s p e r s p e c t i v e s , moving f i r s t through the dark waters of the lower mind, emerging  t o l i g h t and t o the dark-  ness over the f a c e o f the e a r t h and f i n d i n g both t e r r i b l e , and thence i n t o the realm of magical t r a n s f o r m a t i o n , which  reconciles  l i f e w i t h death. Each p e r i o d c o n t a i n s i t s own d e f e c t s and l i m i t a t i o n s . A number of the poems f a i l s t o u n i f y t h e i r matter; s i g n s too that c e r t a i n compulsive moods clamoured tion; the  t h e r e are for reitera-  h i s e x p l o r a t i o n of s e x u a l process i s sometimes i n d i s c r i m i n a t e ;  a p o c a l y p t i c v i s i o n may become an almost automatic  to  the f e a r of l i f e ;  to  evoke a mood than t o concentrate one.  solution  and a t times landscape seems used r a t h e r  I t h i n k i t i s t r u e that i n Thomas the dynamic and expressive  elements developed t o the detriment of the a r t i s t ' s  r e c e p t i v e c a p a c i t y , r e s u l t i n g i n an imbalance i n the work.  It  appears he possessed immensely powerful, i n n e r r e s o u r c e s , but was somewhat slow t o absorb experience p o e t i c a l l y . former t o the f u l l ,  He e x p l o i t s the  but r a r e l y does he seem t o have achieved  116. neutral r e c e p t i v i t y .  T h i s i s the weakness of the a r t i s t who can  give out, but cannot w e l l take i n . p e r s o n a l i t y and a r t .  I t d e f i n e s a c e r t a i n k i n d of  I t a l s o e x p l a i n s the f a i l u r e of c e r t a i n  p i e c e s t o i n t e g r a t e , s i n c e the r e s u l t of a low degree of i n t e r a c t i o n between the dynamic and contemplative elements i n comp o s i t i o n tends t o be uncoordinated v i o l e n c e . opposite  extreme:  E l i o t embodies the  too s t r o n g a r e l i a n c e on h i s r e c e p t i v e  at the expense of dynamism, accounting growing c o n t i n u a l l y more p a l p a b l e . Thomas tends t o shout.  capacity  f o r a l a c k of v i t a l i t y ,  Whereas he i n c l i n e s t o murmur,  CHAPTER IV PART 2  Though by f a r the l e a s t maculated, l a s t p e r i o d i s not e n t i r e l y unblemished.  the s t y l e of the  I t c o n t a i n s some un-  surmounted d e f e c t s and i n p l a c e s adds some new  ones.  to  I wish t o examine  conclude my  d i s c u s s i o n of the poet's s t y l e ,  a number of c o n f l i c t i n g statements which seem t o me  In order  crucial.  M a r j o r i e Adix quotes from a conference h e l d by Dylan Thomas w i t h students at the U n i v e r s i t y of Utah, i n the course of which he was  asked i f i t was  ever f a i r d e l i b e r a t e l y t o confuse  the r e a d e r .  T h i s i s what he answered:  I thought someone would take me up on t h a t . No - i t i s a d e l i b e r a t e avowal of your own i n e f f i c i e n c y . It i s i m p o s s i b l e t o be too c l e a r . . . . At f i r s t I thought i t enough t o leave an impression of sound and f e e l i n g and l e t the meaning seep i n l a t e r , but s i n c e I've been g i v i n g these broadcasts and r e a d i n g other men's poetry as w e l l as my own, I f i n d i t b e t t e r t o have more meaning a t f i r s t  reading.°'  Myself, I do not t h i n k t h i s adequately e x p l a i n s the changes the l a t e r poetry r e f l e c t s . encouraged  P u b l i c r e c i t a l and broadcasts may  the poet t o aim a t c l a r i t y , but u n l e s s they  f o s t e r e d an impulse a l r e a d y present w i t h i n him,  I doubt  have  had i f they  would have i n f l u e n c e d him so s t r o n g l y . I r e j e c t Olson's c l a i m t h a t h i s " o b s c u r i t y . . . a device;  is  and one obvious use of i t i s t o f o r c e the reader t o  g i v e a poem the c l o s e a t t e n t i o n i t r e q u i r e s . " ^ 8  To suppose a  poet would employ o b s c u r i t y simply t o exact the maximum c o n c e n t r a t i o n from the reader i s t o i s o l a t e the o b s c u r i t y from the poetry,  118. as  i f , had  he w i s h e d ,  whole t h i n g  the author  in readily  might w e l l  comprehensible  have e x p r e s s e d  language.  w o u l d n o t have been t h e same poem i n a n o t h e r ly  d i f f e r e n t work.  it  i s necessary  t o the  There obscurity; comitantly  The  a r e two  first,  only j u s t i f i c a t i o n  main c a u s e s ,  the r e a l  second,  his failure  in  "Now", where he  he  resorts  is inefficient  when he  Gibson  8  concerned of  these e a r l i e r  is  said with devious  o t h e r way; it  ing  and  axis;" 3  The  that  thought  half-creation. rhetorical  turgid  "the - a  and  eloquence  yond.  C u r i o u s l y enough, he n e v e r  the  last  limits,  achieves  last  is  verbosity." ^ 8  thing  I n one  any  period enchant-  something of  ideas  poems s t r e t c h and  lucidity;  terseness s l i p s  style  the s u b j e c t as  . . . D e s p i t e the  or emotion t o i t s utmost  o b s c u r i t y w r o u g h t by h i s e a r l y  certainly,  presented a m u l t i p l i c i t y  single  his final  of  the simply  to avoid saying i t i n  e m o t i o n s i n a v e r y s m a l l compass;  wrought by  Most  i n c o n t r a s t , c l a i m s "In the  e a r l y work had  i s not  Merwin t h a t  8  n o v e l t y merely  the f e e l i n g  number  "the c r a f t s m a n s h i p i s merely  i s s u p p l a n t e d by v e r b o s i t y . has  con-  a r e p l a c e s , as  o f 'a f i x e d  poems i s o f t e n e g r e g i o u s and  Olson,  imagery, one  strained.  i t s own  the r i s k  a s t h o u g h t h e words came f i r s t  could;" *  terseness  runs that  and  the r e a d e r ' s response,  lapses i n t o a limbo  complains  t o r e v o l v e on  i s that  in a  this  i n s p i r a t i o n a l nucleus.  Corman m a i n t a i n s he saying;" ^  There  t o o b f u s c a t i o n , but  to manipulate  a b s e n c e o f an  entire-  o p i n i o n , f o r Thomas's  of h i s v i s i o n  t h e poems t o impose o r d e r upon c h a o s .  a woeful  result  b u t an  of o b s c u r i t y  i n my  peculiarity  i t s e x p r e s s i o n , and  of a t t e m p t i n g  form,  the  composition.  of  result  But  the  into  perhaps  a  be-  the the  obscurity  r e s p e c t Horan  and  119  Savage are a t one w i t h Olson.  The former  observes:  has been i n c r e a s i n g l y , not towards s i m p l i c i t y  "His manner  . . . but towards  c o n c e n t r a t i o n , which i s the s u b t l e r and more meaningful  choice ;  n S 5 < 3  the l a t t e r t h a t h i s development "takes the form of an a c c e s s i o n of  '87 intensity  ...  an i n t r o v e r s i o n and not an expansion."  '  Shapiro  remarks t h a t "Thomas d i d e v e r y t h i n g i n h i s power to obscure d i a l e c t of the t r i b e .  ...  the  He had a h o r r o r of s i m p l i c i t y - or what  I c o n s i d e r to be a f e a r of i t . "  Q  He a l s o charges the poet w i t h  O  89 r e s o r t i n g "to r i d d l e , the o p p o s i t e of metaphor,*  Porteus, however,  goes f u r t h e r , s a y i n g he "invented an idiom, c o n s i s t i n g of a few t r i c k s of v e r b a l and metaphorical  violence."9®  Here, then, are v a r i o u s views, reconcilable. mits.  We  Let us attempt  to answer them so f a r as space  can d i s m i s s the charge  on i t s own  a x i s , s i n c e we  one e l s e ' s .  some of which are i r per-  that h i s craftsmanship revolves  should h a r d l y wish i t to do so on some-  That he d i d not become verbose  but I t h i n k we can r e f u t e the  i s l e s s e a s i l y shown,  p e j o r a t i v e element i n the  charge  t h a t i n the l a t e r poetry he c a r r i e s a s i n g l e n o t i o n t o i t s utmost or  beyond, by p o i n t i n g out t h a t t h i s i s p r e c i s e l y wherein i t s  strength l i e s ; chaotic l i f e , It  u n l i k e much of the e a r l y work, which teems w i t h most of the l a t e r achieves a congruous v a r i e t y .  c e r t a i n l y d i d not become i n t r o v e r t e d , however, f o r we  are  never more aware of the m a n i f o l d abundance of l i f e than i n the poet's l a s t p e r i o d .  That he never became simple i s not, p r o p e r l y  speaking, as derogatory a statement there have been many extremely complexity, though they may  as Shapiro i n t e n d s i t , s i n c e  great poets who  never  have become i n c r e a s i n g l y  shook o f f lucid:  120. Shakespeare i s one and Donne another who never became p r e c i s e l y simple.  H e r r i c k and Houseman are both simple  poets,  but n e i t h e r  i s the equal of the t o r t u o u s , complex Donne. I view Thomas's development as a gradual from a D i o n y s i a c  conversion  rage and f r e n z y , i n which he gave f r e e r e i n t o  d i s o r d e r e d p e r c e p t i o n and d i s t o r t e d p e r s p e c t i v e s , t o a more A p o l l i n e v i s i o n , of l i g h t and repose and contemplation.  Both are to some  degree e v i d e n t a t each stage of h i s development, but the t o t a l p a t t e r n r e v e a l s a voyage through the i r r a t i o n a l , uncreated, decreated,  h a l f - c r e a t e d , the d i s i n t e g r a t i n g f o r c e s i n  our being clamouring f o r u t t e r a n c e , supernatural, power of l o v e .  extra-conscious,  towards the reasonable,  the  the r e - c r e a t e d , and the miraculous and s o f t e n i n g Thus, i f each p e r i o d shows c e r t a i n d e f e c t s , each  a l s o possesses c e r t a i n e s p e c i a l e x c e l l e n c e s .  I f t h i s i s t r u e of  the matter, i t i s e q u a l l y t r u e of the s t y l e . L i g h t and c l a r i t y are s t r o n g e s t perhaps i n the p a s t o r a l poems, c e r t a i n e l e g i e s and i n "A Winter's T a l e , " i n some ways the most accomplished and tender p i e c e he ever wrote. i n s t a n c e , the f i r s t  Take, f o r  two stanzas:  It i s a w i n t e r ' s That the snow b l i n d t w i l i g h t And f l o a t i n g f i e l d s from the G l i d i n g windless through the The pale breath of c a t t l e a t  tale f e r r i e s over the lakes farm i n the cup of the v a l e s hand f o l d e d f l a k e s the s t e a l t h y s a i l .  And the s t a r s f a l l i n g c o l d , And the s m e l l of hay i n the snow, and the f a r owl Warning among the f o l d s , and the f r o z e n h o l d F l o c k e d with the sheep white smoke o f the farm house cowl In the r i v e r wended v a l e s where the t a l e was t o l d . These l i n e s are almost p e r f e c t .  T h e i r c o n t i n u i t y i s both  leisurely  121.  and emphatic, as i f the poet were i n v i t i n g us t o s e t t l e down comfortably and simply enjoy o u r s e l v e s .  The rhythm and mood are  c o n f i d e n t and r e l a x e d , bespeaking the assurance of the singer'.  There i s , moreover,  'master-  a c u r i o u s s t i l l n e s s , a resonant  s i l e n c e behind the words, so that we almost seem t o hear the s i l e n c e of s n o w f a l l . In r i c h n e s s and repose, the poem r e c a l l s "The Eve of St. Agnes,"  but I should h e s i t a t e to say the former i s q u i t e the  l a t t e r ' s equal.  By comparison, i t i s a t r i f l e  b r i l l i a n t l y d e f i n e d and not as i n t e n s e .  splayed,  less  Nonetheless, i t i s a  marvellous poem. There are p l a c e s where v o l a t i l i t y comes t o the r e s c u e of a tenuous substance, as i n A l l the sun long i t was r u n n i n g , i t was l o v e l y , the hay F i e l d s high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, i t was a i r And p l a y i n g , l o v e l y and watery And f i r e green as g r a s s . . . . which i s admittedly fulsome.  The r e i t e r a t i o n of ' l o v e l y ' I f i n d  p a r t i c u l a r l y d i s t u r b i n g , s i n c e i t r e v e a l s a r e l i a n c e on vague g e s t i c u l a t i o n , i n s t e a d of a t t a i n i n g the weight and resonance of good p o e t r y . I doubt i f he ever achieved the i n f i n i t e l y  flexible  n e u t r a l i t y , which I take t o be the u l t i m a t e mastery of s t y l e , and h i s work remained somewhat e r r a t i c .  Furthermore, the eccen-  t r i c i t i e s which begin by d e l i g h t i n g become t e d i o u s , for, i f b i z a r r e r i e never f a i l s to capture the eye or ear, i t can h a r d l y hope to r e t a i n them.  But these are f a u l t s which e x i s t  as t e n d e n c i e s i n the work; of i t .  chiefly  they do not predominate i n the b u l k  122. At the other extreme stands who  i s f u l l of s t o n e - c o l d s o b r i e t y and  a poet such as Graves; sparse d e l i b e r a t i o n .  Auden and Empson can both, e s p e c i a l l y the l a t t e r , be at times coldly clever. f a u l t s we  A l l three r e p r e s e n t  can d i s c o v e r i n Thomas.  language out of i t s emotional it  the very a n t i t h e s i s of the He  torpor;  used v i o l e n c e to b l a s t i n doing  immeasurably, but, l i k e Hopkins, he has  f o r he i s not simply  so, he  enriched  l e f t no u s e f u l  precedents,  dangerous, but q u i t e f a t a l as a model.  we wish to study h i s d e f e c t s , we  the  If  can see them best e x e m p l i f i e d i n  the work of h i s i m i t a t o r s , but f o r h i s q u a l i t i e s , which are many and g r e a t , we  need but look i n t o our h e a r t s , f o r i t i s to the  human heart t h a t above a l l he w r i t e s .  CHAPTER V AN EPILOGUE  A f i n a l e v a l u a t i o n of a poet's l i v i n g works i s perhaps a c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n terms. we  say can be f i n a l ,  be expressed of i t .  I f the poetry be a l i v e , then n o t h i n g  s i n c e t h e r e w i l l remain more and yet more t o Nonetheless, though n o t h i n g we say erf good  poetry should ever attempt  t o be d e f i n i t i v e , time has a way  forming some k i n d of a pantheon,  of  l e a d i n g us t o a f f i r m there i s  more t o be experienced and more t h e r e f o r e t o be s a i d of one than another.  In t h i s way  we  are able t o r e a c h c e r t a i n c o n c l u s i o n s ,  such as the obvious t r u t h Shakespeare T.S. E l i o t .  i s a g r e a t e r poet than  There i s no o b j e c t i n t r y i n g t o arrange poets i n  order of m e r i t , as i f we were c o m p i l i n g an honours' class l i s t ,  examination  but i t i s sometimes u s e f u l t o examine why  say, Webster as a g r e a t e r d r a m a t i s t than Tourneur. may  poet  not, but, s i n c e the g e n e r a l consensus  we r e g a r d ,  Some of us  of c r i t i c a l o p i n i o n  over a long p e r i o d of time has p r e f e r r e d the former, i f we t h i s view, the onus of proof r e s t s upon us. c r i t i c s and s c h o l a r s who  There are  reject  still  deplore c e r t a i n g r e a t masterpieces.  have even heard of a C l a s s i c a l s c h o l a r r e f u s i n g t o teach the  I Iliad  on the grounds i t i s merely a butcher's shop.  To most, however,  it  As f o r M i l t o n , i t  i s one of the g r e a t e s t poems i n the w o r l d .  seems l i k e l y he w i l l remain a c r i t i c a l b a t t l e f i e l d f o r the r e s t of  time - i f he  lasts.  Thomas's r e p u t a t i o n i s s t i l l pot.  very much i n the m e l t i n g -  C r i t i c s d i s a g r e e not only about the q u a l i t y of h i s work as  124 a whole, but d i f f e r s h a r p l y i n t h e i r e s t i m a t e s of the r e l a t i v e value of each stage of h i s e v o l u t i o n . I have made c l e a r my b e l i e f that the l a t e r work i s the most p a s s i o n a t e , the most profound and the most moving, and d e t e c t only here and t h e r e the shadow of s t e r i l i t y . He has been c a l l e d a neo-romantic, a d i s c i p l e of Hopkins remarks,  a demi-surrealist,  and many other t h i n g s .  Francis Scarfe  "The dominant p o i n t s of c o n t a c t seem t o be James Joyce, 91  the B i b l e and F r e u d ; " to Merwin, r e l i g i o u s .  t o Shapiro he i s predominantly F r e u d i a n , I f the t r u t h be t o l d , he i s s u r e l y not  simply t h i s or t h a t , but many t h i n g s .  Sometimes s u r r e a l i s t i c ,  sometimes F r e u d i a n , sometimes romantic, sometimes m e t a p h y s i c a l , sometimes p a n t h e i s t i c , sometimes B i b l i c a l and sometimes whatever he i s , he remains always h i m s e l f .  Jacobean,  In common w i t h many  other w r i t e r s , he l a i d the onus of e x p l o r a t i o n on h i s own personality.  Perhaps he d i d not c o n s c i o u s l y choose  i n t h i s age I doubt  t o do so, but then  i f the powerful r e c r e a t i o n of a world of  collective certainty i s possible. Derek S t a n f o r d l i k e n s him t o Gray, but, I think, q u i t e wrongly.  From f i r s t  t o l a s t Gray remained  an o c c a s i o n a l poet  and very r a r e l y rose above accomplished competence.  H i s innate  temperamental b i a s , furthermore, precluded him from any r e a l development.  Thomas e v o l v e d enormously  and h i s work r e v e a l s a  much g r e a t e r emotional and i n t e l l e c t u a l range than we f i n d i n the other's works.  Furthermore,  as an a r t i s t , the melancholy,  sombrely w i s t f u l Gray c o u l d h a r d l y be l e s s l i k e the tempestuous, v o l a t i l e Thomas.  125.  Treece t h i n k s Hart Crane i n f l u e n c e d the poet, though p e r s o n a l l y I doubt i t . C e r t a i n resemblances may them, but Crane seems to me from the world  e x i s t between  as a whole i n f i n i t e l y  f u r t h e r removed  than Thomas and very r a r e l y does he achieve  that  a c t i v e c o n c e n t r a t i o n which i n the l a t t e r i s so f r e q u e n t l y  present.  Most would deny him the s t a t u r e of E l i o t and F r o s t . It and  i s commonly s a i d t h a t h i s work l a c k s the o b j e c t i v e magnitude i n t e l l e c t u a l depth of t h e i r s .  and y e t , i f we much we  The  statement looks c o r r e c t  examine the works of the f i r s t two,  s h a l l f i n d that i s g r e a t :  p l a c e s i n E l i o t , a few  of F r o s t , but s u r e l y not a great d e a l more. do a t t a i n a p o i s e d and I am prepared  sagacious  I wonder  how  pieces  At t h e i r b e s t  they  ?  maturity which Thomas d i d not.  to concede them the l a u r e l , but not by so very much.  He remains an i s o l a t e d f i g u r e i n r e l a t i o n to h i s i n which r e s p e c t he resembles both Blake and Hopkins. former's h i s poetry  seems anti-academic;  husbanded h i s sources  As  age, the  l i k e the l a t t e r ,  to an almost dangerous degree and  he  i n common  w i t h both h i s work r e v e a l s a f u r i o u s l y a c t i v e l i b i d o . There are degrees i n greatness Thomas w i t h the h i g h e s t , but  and  I should not rank  I b e l i e v e t h a t he has  l e f t no mean  number of poems t h a t c o u l d j u s t l y be d e s c r i b e d as great and i n h i s development from the darkness of the to  a v i s i o n of consummate repose,  s a t i s f y i n g r e c o r d of one  *  he has  lower mind's depths  l e f t a complete  and  man's e n t i r e s p i r i t u a l e v o l u t i o n .  *  *  *  *  that  126  FOOTNOTES  1.  Geoffrey Grigson, Dylan Thomas; The and Critical Essays, Heinemann, 1960),  "How Much Me Now Your Acrobatics Amaze, " Legend and the Poet, A Collection of Biographical ed. E.W. Tedlock. (London, Melbourne, Toronto, p. 160.  2.  Elder Olson, The Poetry of Dylan Thomas. Press, 1954), p. 88.  3.  Dylan Thomas, "Answers to an Enquiry", as quoted by Henry Treece in Dylan Thomas . (London, Lindsay Drummond Ltd., 1949), p. 31.  4.  Derek Stanford, Dylan Thomas, A Literary Study. '".How to be a poet," circus, N o . 2, May 1950. (London, Neville Spearman, 1954), p. 10.  5.  Stanford, p. 38.  6.  Ibid, p. 39.  7.  T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems, 1909-1935. Quoted from Title of "The Hollow M e n , " (London, Faber & Faber Limited, 24 Russe I Square^, p. 85.  8.  Olson, p. 91.  9.  Stanford, p. 44.  (The University of Chicago  10.  Olson, p. 92.  11..  See footnote N o . 3.  12.  Olson, p. 99.  13.  Treece, pp. 72-84.  14.  Ibid, p. 77.  15.  The Tempest, The Temple Shakespeare London). M D C C X C V , pp. 396-397.  16.  Chinese Philosophy in Classical Times, ed. &trans. E.R.Hughes. (London, J . M . Dent & Sons Ltd., 1942). Reprinted with minor revisions, 1954, p. 184. \  17. 18.  (J.M.  Dent & C o . , Aldine House,  Stanford, p. 147. Quoted from a letter by Dylan Thomas to Treece. Stanford, p. 50.  127 Footnotes  19.  Treece,  Quoted from a letter by Dylan Thomas to Treece, pp. 47-48.  20.  David Aivaz,  21.  Ibid, p. 210.  22.  Olson, p. 5.  23.  Ibid, p. 11.  24.  Olson, p. 5.  25.  [bid, p. 5.  26.  The Winter's Tale,  27.  Rainer Maria Rilke, Requiem And Other Poems, trans, from the German with an Introduction and Notes by J.B. Leishman. (London, The Hogarth Press, 1949). Quoted from lines 7-14 of Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes, p. 101.  28.  Treece, p. 12.  29.  Stanford, p. 65.  30.  Ibid, p. 69.  31.  Ibid, p. 71T72.  32.  Olson, p. 99.  33.  See footnote N o . 19.  34.  Stanford, p. 69.  35.  Treece, p. 85.  36.  jbid, p. 85.  37.  John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's, Complete Poetry and Selected Prose, ed. John Hayward. (London, The Nonesuch Press; New York, Random House Inc., 1932), p. 282.  38.  Olson, p. 64.  39.  Ibid, pp. 83-84.  "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," ed. Tedlock, p. 207.  The Temple Shakespeare.  4vols.  IV, pp. 120-122.  128 Footnotes 40.  Olson, pp. 84-85.  41.  Ibid, p. 86.  42.  Treece, p. 149.  43.  Stanford, p. 82.  44.  Geoffrey Moore, Dylan Thomas, ed. Tedlock, p. 250.  45.  Geoffrey Grigson, ed. Tedlock, p. 160.  46.  Ibid, p. 165. Quoted from Dylan Thomas.  47.  Ibid, p. 165.  48.  Robert Horan,  "In Defence of Dylan Thomas," ed. Tedlock, p. 134.  49.  Karl Shapiro,  "Dylan Thomas, " ed. Tedlock, p. 283.  50.  Jbid, p. 274.  51.  Stanford, p. 93.  52.  W. S. Merwin,  53.  Stanford, p. 94.  54.  Francis Scarfe,  55.  Stanford, p. 120.  56.  Aivaz, e d . Tedlock, pp. 205-206.  57.  D.S. Savage,  58.  Glyn Lewis, "Dylan Thomas, " ed. Tedlock, pp. 172-173.  59.  Merwin, ed. Tedlock, p. 244.  60.  Walt Whitman, "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, " Leaves of Grass . (New York and London, D. Appleton & C o . , 1912), p. 197.  61.  Stanford, p. 105.  62.  Elder Olson,  63.  Olson,  64.  Treece, p. 114.  65.  Stanford, p. 139.  "The Religious Poet," ed. Tedlock, p. 245.  "Dylan Thomas: A Pioneer," ed. Tedlock, p. 107.  "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," ed. Tedlock, p. 143.  "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas, " ed. Tedlock, pp. 230-231.  The Poetry of Dylan Thomas, p. 51.  129 Footnotes 66.  Treece, p. 119.  67.  Stanford, p. 106.  68.  Erich Heller, in The Disinherited Mind, "RiIke and Nietzsche, with a Discourse on Thought, Belief, and Poetry," (Penguin Books Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex; Mitcham, Victoria, Australia, 1961), p. 155.  69.  Savage, ed. Tedlock, p. 146.  70.  Treece, p. 127.  71.  Stanford, p. 130.  72.  [bid, p. 131.  73.  Cid Corman,  74.  Olson, pp. 57-58.  75.  Heller, p. 155.  76.  Stanford, pp. 142-143.  77.  Ibid, p. 114.  78.  Heller, op. cit. p. 130.  79.  [bid, p. 130.  80.  Marjorie Adix, "A Conference by Dylan Thomas with students at the University of Utah, " ed. Tedlock, pp. 61-62.  81.  Olson, p. 47.  82.  Corman, ed. Tedlock, p. 227.  83.  Henry Gibson,  84.  Merwin, ed. Tedlock, p. 240.  85.  Olson, p. 21.  86.  Horan, ed. Tedlock, p. 139.  87.  Savage, ed. Tedlock, p. 146.  88.  Shapiro, ed. Tedlock, p. 274.  89.  Ibid, p. 280.  90.  Hugh Gordon Porteus, "Map of Llareggub, " ed. Tedlock, p. 92.  91.  Scarfe, ed. Tedlock, p. 96.  "Dylan Thomas: Rhetorician in Mid-Career, " ed. Tedlock, p. 224.  "A Comment, " ed. Tedlock, p. 153.  A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY  Adams, Phoebe. Review of Collected Poems 1934-52, Atlantic Monthly. 191, May 1953, p. 79. Adams, R.M. "Taste and Bad Taste in Metaphysical Poetry: Richard Crashaw and Dylan Thomas." Hudson Review. 8, Spring 1955, pp. 61-77. Aiken, C .  "Rocking Alphabet, "  Poetry.  56, June 1940, pp. 159-161.  Allen, Walter. Review of Quite Early One Morning, New Statesman. November 6, 1954, p. 586. Baro, G .  "Orator of Llareggub." Poetry.  48,  87, November 1955, pp. 119-122.  Barrett, M.E. "Luncheon with Dylan Thomas. " Reporter. pp. 45-48.  10, April 27, 1954,  Bayley, John. The Romantic Survival; a study in poetic evolution. Constable, 1957.  London,  Bittner, W. Review of Leftover Life to Kill by C . Thomas." Saturday Review. 40, October 12, 1957, pp. 22-23. Bogan, Louise. Review of Leftover Life to Kill by C . Thomas. New Yorker. 33, October 12, 1957, p. 193. Botterill, R. "Among the Younger Poets, " Life and Letters. 51, November 1946, pp. 93-94. Boyle, K.  "Declaration for 1955." Nation. 180, January 29, 1955, pp. 102-104.  Brinnin, J . M . "Cockles, Brambles and Fern Hill; Dylan Thomas in Wales." Atlantic Monthly. 196, November 1955, pp. 50-55. "Dylan Thomas and his Village. " Mademoiselle. 38, February 1954, pp. 108.-109. "Dylan Thomas' First Week in America. " Mademoiselle. 42, November 1955, pp. 98-101. .  Dylan Thomas in America, an intimate journal. Boston, Little &  .  "Dylan Thomas in Wales."  Brown, 1955, i l .  Atlantic Monthly. 196, O c t . 1955, pp. 37-  131 Brinnin, J . M . Brossard, C .  "Talent of Genius." New Republic.  130, January 25, 1954, p. 19.  "Magic of Dylan Thomas." Commonweal. 62, June 10, 1955, pp. 262-263.  Campbell, Roy. "Memories oF Dylan Thomas at the B.B.C. " 1955, pp. 111-114. Ciardi, J .  Poetry. 87, November  "The Real Thomas." Saturday Review. 41, March 1, 1958, pp. 18 4  .  Review of Letters to Vernon Watkins.  1958, p. 18. .  Saturday Review. 41, March 1,  ~  "Six Hours of Dylan Thomas. " Saturday Review. (Bibliography)  November 15, 1958, p. 50.  41,  Clancey, J . C . "Dylan Thomas : Promise Clipped." America. 90, December 12, 1953, pp. 295-296. Cox, R . G . Review of Dylan Thomas by Henry Treece. pp. 247-250. Daiches, David.  Review of Collected Poems 1934-52.  1953, p. 625.  Davenport, J .  "Dylan Thomas." Twentieth Century.  Scrutiny.  16, N o . 3,  Yale Review. 42, Summer  153, February 1953, pp. 142-146.  Deutsch, Babette. "Orient Wheat. " Virginia Quarterly Review. 27, April 1951, pp. 221-236. Driver, T . F . "Chamber Drama." pp. 1288-1289. Empson, W.  Christian Century. 74, October 30, 1957,  Review of Collected Poems 1934-52. " New Statesman.  1954, p. 635.  Fraser, G . S .  "Artist as Young D o g . " New Statesman.  47, May 15,  49, June 11, 1955, p. 812.  . Dylan Thomas. Published for the British CounciI by Longmans & Green, London, New York, 1957. .  Review of Collected Poems 1934-52. New Statesman.  44, November 29,  1952Tp. 640. Fremantle, A . Fuller, J . G .  "Death of a Poet." "Trade Winds."  Commonweal. 59, December 18, 1953, pp. 285-286.  Saturday Review. 40, November 16, 1957, pp. 8-4-  132. Gardiner, H . C .  "Welsh Chanter's Spell." America. 92, January 1, 1955, p. 363.  Garrigue, J . "Dark is a Way and Light is a Place. " pp. 111-114. Ghiselin, B.  "Critical Work in Progress." Poetry.  .  Poetry.  87, November 1955, pp. 118-119.  "Use of a Mango." Rocky Mountain Review.  Gibson, Henry.  94, May 1959,  8, Spring 1944, p. 112.  "A Comment." The Critic. I Autumn 1947, p. 20.  Graves, Robert. Review of Leftover Life to Kill by C . Thomas. New Republic. 137, October 28, 1957, pp. 15-18. 1  .  "These be your Gods, O Israel."  April 155, pp. 129-150.  Essays in Criticism. 5,  2  Halsband, Robert. Review of The Doctor and the Devils. Saturday Review. March 6, 1954, p. 38.  37,  Hamilton, E. "Words*, words, words; modern school of verse." Saturday Review. 38, November 19, 1955, pp. 15-16 Harding, J . "Dylan Thomas and Edward Thomas." Contemporary Review. September 1957, pp. 150-154. Hardwick, E. "America and Dylan Thomas. " Partisan Review. pp. 258-264. Heppenstall, R. Hornick, Lita R.  192,  23, September 1956,  Four Absentees. London, Barrie & Rockliff, 1960. The Intricate Image; a study of Dylan Thomas." Doctoral  Dissertations (Association of Research Libraries). Columbia University, 1957-58.  Hynes, S.  "Dylan Thomas: everybody's Adonais. " Commonweal. 59, March 26,  Joost, N .  Review of Quite Early One Morning. Commonweal. 61, January 7,  1954, pp. 628-629.  1955, p. 387.  "Wit, Flamboyance and Faith of Dylan Thomas. " Commonweal. 61, January 7, 1955, p. 387. Kazin, A . .  Review of Leftover Life to K i l l . Atlantic Monthly. 200, October 1957, p. 164. "Posthumous Life of Dylan Thomas." Atlantic Monthly. 200, October 1957,  pp~7 164-168.  133. Korg, J .  "Changed Dylan Thomas." Nation. .  "Sound of Laughter." Nation.  178, April 24, 1954, pp. 360-361.  179, December 25, 1954, pp. 552-553.  La Rosa, Barbara. Review of Leftover Life to Kill by C . Thomas. Catholic World. 186, December 1957, p. 238. Lewis, E. G l y n . Dylan Thomas; an Appreciation of His Poetry. 7, N o . 4, 1948, pp. 270-281.  Welsh Review.  MacNeice, Louis. Review of Leftover Life to Kill by C . Thomas. New Statesman. 53, June 8, 1957, p. 741. Maud, R . N ,  Language and Meaning in the Poetry of Dylan Thomas. Doctoral  Dissertations (Association of Research Libraries). .  Harvard University, 1957-58.  "Dylan Thomas' First published poem." Modern Language Notes.  74, February 1959, pp. 117-118.  i  "Dylan Thomas Astro-navigated." Essays in Criticism. 5, April 1955, pp. 164-168. . "Dylan Thomas' Collected Poems: Chronology of Composition. " Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. LXXVI, 3, June 1961, pp. 292-297. .  "Obsolete and dialect words as serious puns in Dylan Thomas.  11  English Studies. 41, February 1960, pp. 28-30. McBrien, W . A .  Likeness in the themes and prosody of Gerard Manley Hopkins  and Dylan Thomas. Doctoral Dissertations (Association of Research Libraries). St. John's University, 1958-59.  McDonald, G . D . Review of In Country Sleep and Other Poems. 77, March 15, 1952, p. 533.  Library Journal.  McDonnell, T.P. "Emergence of Dylan Thomas." America. 91, August 21, 1954, pp. 500-502. .  "Who Killed Dylan?" Catholic World.  Mercier, Vivian. Review of Letters to Vernon Watkins. p. 369. Meyer, G . P .  187, July 1958, pp. 285-289.  Nation.  186, April 26, 1958,  "Biographical Sketch." Saturday Review. 35, June 21, 1952, p. 17.  . Review of In Country Sleep and Other Poems. Saturday Review. 35, June 21, 1952, p. 17.  134. Meyerhoff, H. "Violence of Dylan Thomas. " New Republic. pp. 17-19.  133, July 11, 1955,  Miller, J . E . Jr. "Four Cosmic Poets." University of Kansas City Review. June 1957, pp. 313-320. Mizener, A .  "Poets." Nation.  163, August 10, 1946, p. 160.  Moore, G . Dylan Thomas; Significance of His Genius. Kenyon Review. Spring, 1955, pp. 258-277. Morgan, W.J. "Evans, Thomas and Lewis." Twentieth Century. pp. 322-329. .  23,  "Under Milkwood." Twentieth Century.  pp. 275-276.  17,  160, October 1956,  164, September 1958,  Nyren, Dorothy. Review of Leftover Life to Kill by C . Thomas. Library Journal. 82, October, 1957, p. 2450. Oboler, E.M. Review of Adventures in the Skin Trade, etc. July 1955, p. 1594.  Library Journal. 80,  Olson, Elder. The Poetry of Dylan Thomas. The University of Chicago Press, 1954. . Owen, B.E.  "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas. " Poetry. "Dylan Thomas." Fortnightly.  83, January 1954, pp. 213-220.  178, December 1952, pp. 419-420.  Panter-Downes, M . "Letter from London; Dylan Thomas Memorial Fund." New Yorker. 29, February 6, 1954, pp. 67-68. .  Review of Leftover Life to Kill by C . Thomas. New Yorker.  33, July 13, 1957, p. 56.  Peden, William. Review of Adventures in the Skin Trade, etc. 38, July 2, 1955, p. 18. Peschmann, Hermann. pp. 84-87.  "A critical appreciation." English. 10, N o . 57, 1954,  Richart, B. Review of Leftover Life to Kill by C . Thomas. October 25, 1957, pp. 94-95. Riggs, T . Jr.  Saturday Review.  "Recent Poetry."  Nation.  Commonweal. 67,  176, May 2, 1953, p. 376.  Rolo, C . J . Review of Adventures in the Skin Trade, etc. Atlantic Monthly. 196, Jyly 1955, p. 81.  135. Rolph, J . Alexander. Sons Ltd., 1956.  Dylan Thomas.  A Bibliography.  London, J . M . Dent &  Rosenthal, M.L. Review of Dylan Thomas in America by J . M . Brinnin. 181, December 17, 1955, pp. 539-540. Rothberg, W. "One Ring-T iled Roarer to Another." pp. 184-186.  Poetry.  Savage, D.S. "Poetry of Dylan Thomas. " (Bibliography). April 29, 1946, pp. 618+-. Scott, W.T.  "Lyric Marvel. "  Saturday Review.  "Wild Man Bound."  Shuttleworth, M. Sitwell, Edith. . Smith, H.  "Dylan Thomas. "  "Whose is the G u i l t ? "  Stanford, Derek.  Dylan Thomas.  The Critic.  Atlantic Monthly. Saturday Review.  36, April 11,  36, April 11, 1953, pp. 29-30.  New Statesman.  "Comment on Dylan Thomas."  New Republic. 114,  Saturday Review.  Saturday Review.  "Without Apologies. "  81, December 1952,  38, January 8, 1953, pp. 17-18.  Review of Collected Poems 1934-52. 1953, p. 29. .  Nation.  45, February 7, 1953, p. 144 I, Autumn 1947, p. 18.  193, February 1954, pp. 42-45. 37, March 13, 1954, p. 24.  London, Neville Spearman, 1954.  Stearns, Marshall W. "After the Funeral (in Memory of Ann Jones)." 3, May 1954, p. 52.  The Explicator.  N  Sewanee Review.  "Unsex the Skeleton: notes on the poetry of Dylan Thomas. " 52, July 1944, pp. 424-440.  Sweeney, J . L . (Ed.) 'Introduction to Selected Writings by Dylan Thomas. New York, J . Laughlin, 1946. "Intimations of Mortality. "  p. 24.  .  .  New Republic.  Review of Collected Poems 1934-52.  New Republic.  "Round Sunday Sounds. " New Republic.  Symour, Julian. "Obscurity and Dylan Thomas. " 1940, pp. 64-65.  126, March 17, 1952, pp. 1 128, April 1953,  128, April 6, 1953, pp. 24-25.  The Kenyon Review.  2, Winter  136. Tedlock, E.W. (Ed.) Dylan Thomas: The Legend and the Poet. (A Col lection of Biographical and Critical Essays), London, William Heinemann, Ltd., 1960. Thomas, Caitlin. "Dylan Thomas and Emlyn Williams." June 11, 1955, p. 815. Leftover Life to K i l l . Thomas, Dylan.  New Statesman. 49,  London, Putnam, 1957.  Adventures in the Skin Trade, etc.  London, Putnam, 1955.  A Prospect of the Sea and other stories and prose writings; edited by Daniel Jones, London, Dent, 1955. .  Collected Poems, 1934-52.  London, Dent, 1952.  Letters to Vernon Watkins, ed. with an introduction by Vernon Watkins. London, Dent, 1957. Daniel Jones.  Under Milkwood; a play for voices. Pref. and musical settings by London, Dent, 1954.  Tindall, W.Y. "Poetry of Dylan Thomas. " 1948, pp. 431-439. Treece, Henry.  Dylan Thomas.  American Scholar.  17, N o . 4, October  London, Lindsay DrummonJ Ltd., 1949.  Tyler, P. "Then was my Neophyte a Scriptist. " pp. 116-118.  Poetry.  87, November, 1955,  Untermeyer, L. Review of Dylan Thomas in America by J . M . Brinnin. Saturday Review. 38, November 19, 1955, pp. 16-18. Varney, H.L. and Kann, N . N . January 1958, pp. 146-148.  "Glamorizing Dylan Thomas. " Mercury. 86,  Wanning, Andrews. "Criticism and Principles : Poetry of the Quarter. " The Southern Review. 6, Spring 1941, pp. 806-809. Watters, R. Jr. "Trade Winds: Three Versions of Under Mi Ikwood. " Saturday Review. 37, February 20, 1954, p. 6+. West, A .  "Singer and a Spectre. " New Yorker.  Wyatt, E.V.  "Boy Growing U p . "  30, January 22, 1955, pp. 106-108.  Catholic World.  186, December 1957, p. 228.  

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
http://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.831.1-0105668/manifest

Comment

Related Items