Dylan Thomas’s 18 Poems and Auden’s Critique (Published)
Literary taste has its twists and turns, and it is no wonder that Dylan Thomas’s 18 Poems appeal to the poets of the thirties and the forties in different ways. The response of the Thomas circle is quick and unstinted. The Apocalyptic poets, Henry Treece, Vernon Watkins, G.S. Fraser, and Norman MacCaig become enthusiastic over Thomas’s poem, and they plan to bring out a book of verse based on 18 Poems. The critics have also expressed their warm appreciation. The poets of the thirties, Cecil Day Lewis, Stephen Spender, and Louis MacNeice, are equally effusive. The reaction of W.H. Auden is, on the other hand, quite adverse. In Look Stranger!, he says that 18 Poems recording a sceptical theme, stands “wild” in its structure. Auden’s critique on Thomas as articulated in Another Time, The New Year Letter, For the Time Being, The Age of Anxiety, and in Nones endorses, on the whole till the death of Thomas (1953), the opinions of the preceeding years. The obvious limitations of 18 Poems should not, however, make the readers ignore its real excellences, and the excellences are many and varied. Hence, a figurative study is undertaken to establish that the most remarkable advance in Thomas’s artistic discipline is marked in the defter handling of dramatic imagination and language. What really distinguishes the surrealistic mind of Thomas is a capacity for self-analysis, a capacity for objectifying, and subjecting to analytical scrutiny, his own experiences and feelings. This power of self-analysis is the highest manifestation of the sceptic poetic tradition of Thomas Hardy and W.B.Yeats.