Dylan Thomas’s 18 Poems: The Rising Poetic Voice


Dylan Thomas’s 18 Poems is the first fruit of his contemplations during an apparently fallow period and records the mind’s journey back to the womb of darkness and bangs the drum for the process of creation. The Apocalyptic poets, while extolling 18 Poems for its subjectivity and objectivity, commend its language of reasoning as the harmonizing factor between Thomas and the lost poets of the thirties. To Thomas, the songs and lyrics of John Donne indicating succession of time do not, however, evince interest in temporal sequence that characterizes the lyrics of Thomas Hardy in particular achieving a balance of movement and motionlessness. Thomas’s archetypal setting, while sounding the depth of human heart and human understanding, human predicament and human mercy, reflects the sensibility of earthiness, definiteness, and vividness. John Ackerman explains that the paradoxical attitude of Thomas in 18 Poems “occasions much of the obscurity … the images, however, are usually grouped by a sturdy advancing rhythm and an elaborate sound structure—that is the imposed formal control.” To Walford Davies, Thomas’s early poetry offering “the reader only an impenetrable enigma” is “difficult and obscure in an individual way.”  In the study of Thomas’s 18 Poems the critics, focusing more on obscurity and musical structure, have hardly analysed the self-orientated individual voice. Hence, this paper, adopting a figurative study, strives to unfold the meaning of his rising poetic voice that devoices the Word-centric metaphysical tone of John Donne.    

Keywords: Florid, Plausible, Primordial, Resurrection, Rueful, Symphony, and Ecstatic

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 46-64 (Download PDF)

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