Group Title: poems and poetics of Dylan Thomas
Title: The poems and poetics of Dylan Thomas
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 Material Information
Title: The poems and poetics of Dylan Thomas the life of his art
Physical Description: viii, 195 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Wolfe, Leslie Rosenberg, 1943-
Publication Date: 1970
Copyright Date: 1970
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Thesis: Thesis - University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 181-194.
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00098404
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000559385
oclc - 13483144
notis - ACY4841

Full Text




THE


POEMS


AND
THE


POETICS


LIFE


HIS


DYLAN


THOMAS:


ART


LESLIE R.


WOLFE


A DISSERTATION


PRESENTED TO


THE GRADUATE


COUNCIL


THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS


FOR THE


DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY









UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1970



















































UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


3 1262 08552 8726





















































eSqrn


LOV


Tyi pr"Y T













ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


My deepest debt is to W.R.


Robinson, a(dv sor


mentor, and teacher


whose


critical-


method


vision


of the living reality of li

my imagination and critical


terature f

intelle?:


irst

and


spoke


inspired


beth

this


work of


criticism; his


guidance


advice


throughout


the process of writing moved


Snig


work


fulil Irmeizu


I am also grateful


to Alton


forris c


e 0


A o b h nfl',
.< k i '- l L i


JohnPaggerty, and Patrick


Geoghe;art
!' -


who


of my committee,


offered


many


valuab le


su gg stions


the improvement


this


I also


d i 3 - ^


*i s,.


acknowledge


and colleagues;


advice


I am


cuoucrt


particular l ''


rn.ue i s


T.


-n -


Dal i


ThBr
^i *ay- c


for his help with problems


_-n_. ti 0 .C


anal sis


Sharon Stevenson,


whose


sharp-


inih-


into


pro- ems


organization

Valerie Burke


were

for


invaluable

generously


aids.


mu S"-


'.3 s I
1 t C)
*<
-; ^ '"^


t nanz

:'n 1 --


draft and


Eleanor


Robbins,


-- V d
t'~/ M"


this


- rn


czpy


My gratitude


husband.


Barry,


encouragement,


support,


ant.


d}ev o r


bornd: c',


him this work--and


' U -
zAt LA-i- $$3t- ^


measure


love


commitment--are


as memoeis


de"dc cter.


tp












THE


POEMS


AND
THE


POET
LIFE


OF
HIS


DYLAN
ART


THOMAS:


Page


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


S . . *
ft * 2 1- 1.


ABSTRACT


CHAPTER


THE


POETICS


OF DYLAN THOMAS


vThe Poet
World, S
Reality,
Medium".


Creative
, and L
Self Fr


e Encounter
anguage: "
eedom," and


with


The
Per


Poe
son


Poe
fe"


recess


The


Creat


Craf


The
Act"


Poem:
and


The P
Criti


A "Burni
"Work of


thond
tchod


the Po
* .


words"


er


THE


POEMS


OF DYLAN


THOMAS


CELEB
DESTR
FTHROU
FLOWE


RAT
UCT
-I r
,ik


ION
IVE
TH,
a


TY IN

FUSE


NATURE
D? -r r'VE -
2'1 -', lTb1
1. X j,J-; ^ ,--
LDRIVE.Sq i_


'-S

S. T-


TREATIVE
murkm-L


CEL.EBAT
CREATIVE
MOVEMqE N;T
< THE BOYS


ER ^'IT
I r4 '< -, 4 -
-1 -'\-
-' S


-',T / "l
N .'L
2, L


AND


mIATION S
IFE'S TEMPORAL
-4 -,.'-A 7 -\__ t, ~ ';*;
- .- ,--T L...Sc----^--^ i- l -- JLJ
J' --- -- f < ->Y ---- -- f1'""".^ -
/ rU ^--i^ .*, .j


* S







CHAPTER


UNITIVE
CELEBRATE
RAID" .


Page


ION--THE ULTIMATE
: "CEREMONY AFTER


A FIRE


S. . . . . . 129


VII


CELEBRATE
CRESTED A


BURNINGN
ETIC CRE


AND
TION


S . . 14


NOTES


SELECTED


BIBLIOGRAPHY


S. . . . . 181


BIOGRAPHICAL


SKETCH


S . . . . 195


. 16






Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial


Fulfillment of


Degree


Requirements for the


of Doctor of Philosophy


THE POEMS AND POETICS OF DYLAN THOMAS:
THE LIFE OF HIS ART


Leslie R. Wolfe

August, 1970


Chairman: W.R. R
Major Department:


Lobinson


English


Dylan Thomas's commitment to the "imaginative life"


and to its creative


revealed both in the structure


of his poems and in his poetics--his


prose


statements


about the nature and


of poetic creation.


value


The


of poetry


poetics


ana


create


abocu


context,


process


within


the poet's own framework, for


poem


study


is an embodiment and rendering


poems.


organic


The

process


by which the


poetic


imagination


creates.


Both


craftf" and


"art" are


essential


in the


poetic


process.


Poetry


both


a "burning


and


crested


ac ft"--affirming


life
_> a ^


creative


imagination' s


poetic


process--ana


a "work


words


"medium" which


embodies


Collected Poems
-.. i c- L I o n 1


"celebrations"


are


creation


the pattern of the


Sembodim i ents


in all


formative


creative


multiform


"act."


process


modes.


Tho mas's


Soe st". c
-/ -j \.- -- kS


also


provide


a critical


Frechod


-, reaaczi:n
^. t- a. - - .







Of the early poems,


"The Force That Through The


Green Fuse" most successfully renders the imaginative


perception of the creative-destructive process of


existence


and of the poetic creator's identification and function

within it.


The contrast between the early "I


The Boys Of


Summer" and the later "Fern Hill" reveals the growth of


poetic vision and of the ability to embody,


forms,


in unique open


the celebration of the imagination's creative power


within life's temporal movement.


The imagination also celebrates the particular


moments of birth and death,


life's process.


concrete milestone events in


Thomas's four birthday poems not only


celebrate the poet's birth but also the imagination's

awakening to its creative possibilities in the context of

time and death.


Similarly,


the poet's encounter with death calls not


for mourning,


but for celebration


imagination's


creative power t conquer death through the creation of


timeless poems of


ras .


Thus,


poet


refuses


mourn.


creative


achievement


"death"


poems--


especially the ceremonious celebration of "A Refusal To


Mourn"


--point s


to the most nearly perfect achievement of






The transcendent imaginative achievement, in the

movement of "Ceremony After A Fire Raid" from multiplicity


to duality to unity,


renders the ultimate celebration and


fulfillment of the life of the poet's art and its triumph

over death.


Several poems are explicitly "about" creating poems.

In the earlier poems the poet is imaged as a godlike maker


whose organic process of creating poems imitates nature


method of creating organic creatures.


The later poems


which explicitly render the poet's act image the essentially

loving quality of the act of creation, and celebrate the

joy and value of art, the creative and redeeming "glory"

of the poems.















CHAPTER I




THE POETICS OF DYLAN THOMAS


Dylan Thomas p raised Sir Philip


Sidney's
Le[\v-..-Ti-


Defence


Poesie


"a defence of the imaginative


life,


of the duty,


and the delight,


of the individual poet


living among men inf


the middle


turn ing world


that has, in hii


-, irmo


little


time for him.


Thomas s conitmnt and dedication


to the


"imaginat .ve


life" and its


cr native


are


revealed


both in the structure and


:i age


of hio


coeus
4. ~ .


and in


prose explanations of his poet


p r o r -, C


goals--J ii


letters,


"Poetic Manifesto"


(1961),


ana the


essaysj


Quite


Early


One Norning


(195i1).


Thomas's poetics a


reveal


his conception both of the


Kmaocess


bv which he


create s


poems and of the nature of the poetic result.


A study of Thomas's poetics--his discursive


cstate-


ments-


about


nature and value


poetriv


and his attemots


to explain hi s


cxcerielcte


poetic


creation---creates


context for the study


of Thomas s


poems which derives


from


the poet's own framework",


And the


Collected


Poems3


can


flf u1L


f- ?* -t


.i. I -' -,l *-, ^- *-* -, 1 r


Svi Lr \ ,r4 c


'V\. ^"- -1,- /


-I


-


t*n I 1f- I 7 -* ~ J-- I ^ l ^ -


1


-I : ,- -^ -


-_




2
In-?

Together the poems and the poetics provide Dylan

Thomas's picture of "the imaginative life"; the poeticL


seek to explain and analyze the poetic


process


which creates


the poems and which the movement and "magic" of the poems


embodies.


comrni tment s


movement of his p


The poetics reveal Thomas's emohases and


poet--to the form, texture, pattern) and

oems. And his "critical arguments" also


reveal Thomas's sense of the organic vitality


imaginative creations--the life of his art.


Thomas 's poetic theories


grow


out of his


experience


a creator, out of his process of making poems.


letters which contain the


great


majority of Thomas's


prose statements about poetry


were


written


over


1wet-U


year period from 1932 to 1952, during which


complex : ted


and published all of the poems in

then, wrote about poetry while he


Collected


PE' or -


was


writing poems.


Thorm sC,

And


his poetic theory es--what Thomas ca s "critical arguments"


are


derived from his practice of his


Thomas, these "critical arm"ment s"


art


are


and craft.


secondary


and.


auxiliary to the primary "poetical arguments" which he


wrote ,


"can only be worked out in poems." ,


The "critical


arguments then,


provide


reader


o1fhom!an' 0


Oem s"t
4. i* ^


with


a critical framework within which


itself; for, though


cons,: er the p oetry


reveal Thomas' s


concerns


as a


noel;


Although


Only in the


Cetlc 1


secondary


poctic r-


,~ , _




3

methods and goals, his conception of the relationship

between the poet and his poem and between the poet and the

creative process which he experiences.


The Poet's Creative Encounter with the World, Self, and
Language: "Organic Reality," "Self Freedom," and "His
Medium"


Dylan Thomas's descriptions of his aims


a poet


create an image of the poet as a man of imagination,


desire and function is


whose


"to put into words, never into use-


less, haphazard, ugly, unhappy action,


turbulence,

able glory,


the ordered


the ubiquitous and rinsing grief, the unreason-

of the world I know and don't know."6 Thomas


seeks to create poems which render his unique,


imaginative


vision:


"I do not want


to express only what other


have felt;


I want to rip something away and show what they


have


never


seen.


In order to achieve the imaginative power to create


new poetic forms which


"show what they have never


the poet must actively and lovingly


engage


seen,


himself in


every aspect of the process of creation--of


nature,


consciousness, and his medium.


He mus


open


himself to his


emo


tionai and


sensory


experiences of "the ordered turbulence,


"organic reality,"'9 of the


"external wonders in


world. "1i 0


He must continually


seek


to individuate and










And he


enou .- -i


78ct P


Ie vi al .i_ Z


r'l u i "


S-- nJ :


1 i" f


7 r


:-.r'o*,
4 .,- ^


S1K2


tius


C i *
y,. ^ .


* od --? n


reKa Cih Oi K1


w Ith


onlm


ano ither


capable


o o .>


ren e.


unl ^ -lVO


. S lC
V II* ~t :- "1 . *


orcraniC
" '^ ." "


real- ty .


eai1 7


letter to


Pan:e la


I ns ford


JO hr80 ,


1
- ^*


4. a tet : us .- -


aeso in-n
L 0 *- O .. L 1. ..


c 1, L- L 1 <: t
G L.) -. 4,- C. ,


7, o r'flS ,
L' r U^


rf (


artist; T


, C. C.
I USC -


eX f rei ce


to deriv'


C WY!


ti 1p; ~


] iVin "
!Fit


-.* -t.
l.s >


s-? U C t. Ej


C.C
crea 01n_ *t'-*\ *


cOri C' if -


ness


*- *2' .' 'O -


.- O -_


1, .


ePH O. c 0c o


.art - -,


-- -


* S t


Y 5I


Ev ry


-' 9
- AI --- <*
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r>5 n--t-h t
... .. - _,. *.Sr;-k --


f- --


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r4 -i -^
ran : **


r e V o


IT* -?r, "i -- r A ~r
L< L' -L ^ i i c-i i ^


- C -
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C>y


- ;r& %-


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rcnr
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C-, -, ,
or) |- --


Lies
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111T1


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t< r*- -' C- i
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.51


D.! ac e


_. _. ._ _


. ....


..


.. .








available


his unique and individual


physical experience" of "the


"mental and


literal world"; he


reI sc vest


"that


sha 1I


never


take things for granted,


but that


shall attermt


take them as they are.


ii 16


And this is


difficult


task, an act of


imaginative re-creation, for


"Centurlies


literal


proolematical


world c


progress


have blinded us t


each bright and naked object


is shrouded


around with a thick peasoup mist of


associations.


" 17


poet


thus must onen his


eyes


fresh and vital


ways


experiene'ini b


the world's


"objec s,


; by stripping


away


their


Old,


stale


associations


and seeing them


ne; w-


bo rn.


resolves,


then,


"learn


. to


that


nothing


in this world is un interest nn"


How can
world


thing have no


that


interest


thaL


the world around it


I can bri
nothing i
look and


nSg nyse


.f to know, n


canr broaden


s uninterest


be] eve


believed and


the magic


in the meaning and


miracle


of myself


divinity that


nearer
of the


in the st


can


of below .
is endless


once more, as J
passionately want


s burning


the
and


power


to think,


out


passionate


believe


, in


bewildering universe,
f symbols, in the


of all mortals, in the


so near us
aggering,


see


space


ove


[the


curves


and


blood


ars ]


And


long
starr


o be


wond


can


tel .l


I understand


expand ring hi s perceptions


"the


literal


world,


the poet


able


expand


consc: oi, sness,


attain to


* ,f l C >r l


i n-- i--


hinkn


1 -


n r*


. 1 s \ i I I_ i


r- ^ ^


thn'-
f- h-^




U


This new year h's brought back to my mind the
sense of magic that was lost--irretrievably,
g)-
I thouight--so long ago. I am conscious, if
not of the procbability of tie impossible, at
least of it:s pos:-.ibi] ity.1


When he ag i natI ively


ercei-- v


and conte.pwl ates the


universe.


"I in filled with the terror which is the begin-


nng of o\e ."20


And it is this "love," born of creative perception of

the cosmos. which lets him resolve to revitalize his art as


well,


"to forget all that I have ever written and start


again, informed with a new wonder";21 he thus resolves


"firstly to make poetry and secondly, to write it. "22


For


it is through love of creation that the imagination

functions, as Thomas reveals in his passion "to imagine a


new colour,


so much whiter than white that white is black."23


His passi rate desire is


a-ways


to render, in an


imaginative product, the process of creation which he

perceives both in the "big and magic universe"24 and within


hin; Se.


To make this possible, to liberate his creative


powers, he determines to irmaginatively experience new angles

of vision, new ways of perceiving "the magi c 0of this burning

and bw _derin_ universe":


. . the an
to the h1i -
<2 c^I." -^r .

rt t nl"s
lo oi G, C
..oum nv ;, a :-"


#
r


'-:l
4.


S -I S


i1 ifl" 3<2
e oi man 1s nc cssariy inco. ,c ai
thou ghts. Wa kn a s we do at
with the earth, we are prevented 1
dcfa t the legendary


ve

'rom


--+




7


look only at the middles of pages and never
(without effort) at the tops and bottoms.


see


see


what


only


imagine to be a


tree,


but we


part of the tree; what the in


sects


under the earth


see


when they look upwards at


the tree,
downward s


imaginat ion.


what the stars


the tree,


see


when they look


left to our


And perhaps the materialist can


be called the man who believes only in the part


of the tre
who believe


e he


sees,


mn a


within his sight.


& the spiritualist a man


lot more of the tree than is
Think how much wiser we


would be if it were possible for us to change


our angles of perspective
change our vests.25


regularly


The poet must also engage in the process of "becoming"


---of


creating a unified consciousness:


I resolve not to label the brain into separate
compartments, that is, not to differentiate


between what


in me that write


s poetry and


what is in me that says, her


at this time I lunch.


e comes


That i


resolution not to differentia


one


o'clock;


again, a
between what


called irrational,


but to attempt t
one rationalism.


create


, or to let be created,


The poet'


s active


and loving experience of the


"literal world"'


purification of


and his imaginative assimilation and


"bright and naked" objects from their


eas


oup nn st of


assoc


iations"28 leads him to


a perception


of "the symbols of the world


. the mystery and meaning


of the world


S. the fundamentals


the soul."29


Clearly,


"the symbols of the world" and "the fundamentals


of the soul"


Caro


inteo:rall


related in Thomas's statement.




8


process of perceiving, assimilating, and integrating the


"objects" and


essences


of "the literal world" into union with


the imagination.


The "fundamentals of the soul," according


to Thomas,


are


discovered in the formative process of


becoming, of individuation of the self--through intro-

spection and unification of sensibility into "one


rationalism."^ 0


He writes, for example,


some


"terribly


practical" advice to his friend, Trevor Hughes, attempting

to describe how Hughes must proceed in order to gain the

ability to write:


. delve, deep, deep, into yourself until
you find your soul, and until you know your-


self.


These two bits of advice


e aren't


contradictory.


lies


The true


sear


far within the 1


ch for the


ci


section that it is out of it.


soul


rcle of intrc
31


And, again:


"There is only one object:


the removing of


veils from your soul and scabs from your body.


self freedom


the only object."32


this.


"self


freedom"


sought in the ongoing process in which body and


mind,


passion


and reason,


"the antagonistic interplay


emotions and


ideas,


the rubbing together of


sensibilities,


brain chords and nerve chords" 3 3


are


integrated.


Ultimately, the process by which this "self freedom"


sought


embodied


in an artifact.


Thomas advises


Reaching








express.


(This is one of the few


iways


of knowing it and


expressing it.)34


The introspective process of "becoming" which Thomas

describes is motivated in large part by "the great need of


forever striving after this mystery and meaning. "35


only must the poet submit to his impressions of "the


literal world,"


must


"l t the inner consciousness


develop" 36


--parly
*- f-. ->- *' I
I-" citL y


by "loosening your mind ."


He must


"delve, deep


. into yourself,"


seeking to reach his


"self freedom"; he must


constantly


engage


in the


processes


of creating himself and his world anew, or integrating his


senses, passions, intellect, and imagination in order


continually free his creative powers and become enabled to


"make poetry," new forms which embody both his


experience


and perception of his relatedness to "the literal word"

and to his process of self-creation- he must "dream" his

"genesis."3


These two interdependent processes--by which the poet

places himself in an organic, creative relationship to both


self and the external world--lead his unifying and creative


imagination to


perception and vision of the unity, whole-


ness, and identity of all existence in


terms


of the


organic


process by which everything


'rows


and lives; and this leads


1 FL- r


_









4 ~1,,L> c
IleSh that covers me is the flh t
tlhe sun, that the blood in my lungs
that po'o luD and down in a tree .0


21 1 0^ "1 ''2
e r e J,-


And the poet


so ks


to embody this unitive vision


cosmos in the image of his poems:


The force that through the preen fu.se drives"
PH ,rr C' rn r,-tnc. r'v v >


VL JC


1U 61 creeln


f lower


It was Thomas's conviction that "Perhaps the


works of art are those that reconcile, perfectly,


outer"42 worlds, the "wonders" of the


the "inner splendour"'' of the creative


external.


iO I" ",


seif


was


his "aim


an artist" to achieve this reconciliationn":


"' seeking kinship


' wi th everything


- 'k-


ex < tly ;iritS,


I do do."44


Related


poetT's


search 1'or "se


f^-. on n


a c ti ve'


encount e-r wI t h "t ne external


won r
* ^ ^ 0


world "' is


"in
inner


necessity


'e .- -. -


>:O i T e


medium


express on


."6 for


a new mode o1


-P ndIcet" ML -I
*- A A.-_-' __I-J C)' -


th e c


procc se s


throu-h (v
^ "h ^ ^i C


which the poet,


creates


ii.rse If a!nd lhis


world and


thus empo were-d to


c e -e '"
C,.- tc u L f


on y


must he


"have ,o. u:'. thing


" he must also find ",-e


vocabulary


ass iti t 1


it with ."


. ;peri once,


The process


of- in tereCion


and T;he parallel


. ,-. **


prices S


1 r


Vw


greatest


rinne"r


"oOeil! $ .


I


/- : i ^ ^ - - - ^ < ^ > .-^ i r J '


* ~ ~ I d -1f


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The poet


"is his medium first, &


expresses


out of his


medium what he


sees,


hears,


thinks,


& imagines";48 through


his medium he embodies the reality of the experiences of


his perceiving senses,


his distinguishing intellect, and


his unifying imagination.


The poet must discover and


~ieate


new ways of encountering and using his medium; he must

actively discover the essence of the medium--"I've got


get nearer to the bones of words.


" 49


And he must revitalize


his language and


"make it new" for himself


in his


ongoing


movement


"towards the final intensity of language:


words behind words":50


No single word in all our poetical
a virgin word, ready for our first


to be what we make it


vocabulary


All we nee


to rid our minds of the humbug of


words,


will
d do


scorn


the prearranged leaping together of word


make by our own judicious and, let
for, artistic selection, new assoc
each word. Each word should be a


it De prayer
nations for
basin for us


cough our individual di
vessel full already of


seases
others'


into


and not a


past


diseases


for us to play with
ouddings.5l


as a juggler


plays with


It is part of a poet's job to take


a debauched


and prostituted word


. . and,


smooth


away


the lines of its dissipation, and
the market again fresh and virgin.


put it on


According to Thomas'


metaphoric


expression,


love


for words and


express


ion which


motivates


poet


seek


to create


"new associations for each word"


--even


he does for the


"objects" of the world--and thus return








I wanted
because


to write poetry in the beginning
I had fallen in love with words .


I fell in love--that is the only expression
I can think of--at once, and am still at


the mercy of


words


once


words
53


. . I


tumbled for


Experience which is assimilated and transformed in


the creative


process


medium of words,


can thus be embodied through the


which have been recreated


"ready for our


first


love.


" 54


Through this imaginative process of


recreation,


the poet regains his first


"time of


innocence"


with language:


That was the time of innocence;
upon me unencumbered by trivial


assoc
selve


words burst
or oorrentous


nation; words were their sprinrg-like


fresh with Eden's dew, a


out of the air


assoc


nations


s they


flew


They made their own original
they sprang and shone.55


Using another organic metaphor,


Thomas


describes


poet's relationship with his medium, and elaborates his


statement that the poet "express

rather than moving "towardswords


es out of his medium,


the most suitable


medium through which


I think it


express"


[poetry]


experiences: 5 6


should work from words


friomthe _s~ntane oaf words and the rhythm


tof subs
towards


oa.n words set t og ether,
words. Poetry is a medium,


stigmata on
tooled, and
pencil. If
nfl nlnni-" n


paper.
a poet' s


Men should be


middle


his phallic pencil


Ar 1 7


two-
his


turns into


-- r' n 1 r -~ y\ f7r-


^ ^ tr


^ rR ^-







Much of the poet's


"necessity," then, is to revitalize and


transform language, as he does experience,


by "fresh


imagining,"58 and thus to make words living, fresh, and


"virgin," capable of


embodying the experience and truth of


the living imagination.


The Poet's Responsibility:


"A Person of Words in Action"


The artist is not, according to Thomas, a

action ,"59 but "a person of words in action,"60


"man of


a man of


imagination who renders


"organic reality"


"by the magic of


words and images.


a need to express, describe,


ideologies; he


The poet is not limited or guided by


or justify political or social


limited only by his perception and


experience of "organic reality," by the creative process

through which he integrates his experiences into his

consciousness and imaginatively transforms them, and boy

the organic form of his art:


There is no necessity for the artist to do


anything


There is no necess


ity.


s a


law unto himself, and his greatness


smallnes


rises or falls by that.


only one limitation, and that is t
of all. The limitation of form.


its own form,;
imposed. The
the words and


Sthe


form should n


ever


structure should ris


expression


he widest
Poetry finds


be super-


out of
.


of them


Poetry's uniqueness and significance


derives


from its form


-- 23 n ..


6 n)r








in new forms.


Thomas declares this conviction unequivocally


in his comments on the relationship between war and


poetry:


When you c
then one c
If to under
extreme :is
the war it


ome
C',rni e
an
rgo
-to -
seL
SCI^


only


talk about one's duty
say that his duty is


contemporary reality to
join in a war--the evil


ana not the


things


it.I


as a writer,
to write.
its most
of which is
s supposed,


wrongly, to be
against people
killed or mrnaime


attempting to exterminate


you do not know,


then


one


C --


and probably


can on


flip-


pantly that the best poems abo
always written when the poets
Lorca didn't have to be gored
bullsong, that for a writer to
utmost reality of poverty is f
to death and therefore to be,


ut
wer
bef
un


death were
e alive, th
ore writing


d


er_ o


him to st
a writer,


at
a


usele


Thomas further%


asserts


that


"capital-lettered War can only


in subject matter affect poetry,


" and that:


War can't pr
war can t or
S Or,1 e t c" i-' T'- b
brin thc'v
outward bang
something th
their poe;:Cs


oduc
oduc
lves


, ba
way


e poetry, only poet
e poets either beca
up in such a war t


a


toward.


s can, and
use they


hat


this


men against men is
ssed a long time ago on
ds peace.64


A poet


totally


conr:uTi t ted


the poetic process of


creation in which he


involved and so he cannot,


poe i;,


involve


hilm seif


in any war


other


than his own


"warring work on words t"


"when he is fighting,


he is not


ooet.


S6 5


rie is o nya poet
e 3_ "- q"-*" O^''


when he


vitally and


completely


c H' ,


prces


of rendering the reality


t. t '.-"


* ,* n tI n *
rr cr n a t i o n .^' '/-\\ *


life


;hrouhr


the medium of


arvc


ng I


Y


W^ -.*/ ^


U__- *







he be at war with men


As he writes


good poetry very rarely, he is most often
at peace with the eternal actions of words


and is therefore very
in any bang bang that

What is a poet anyway?


likely to be caught up
is going.

He is a man who has


written or is writing what he, in his utmost
human fallible integrity, necessarily
communal, believes to be good poetry. 66


The poet's crucial battle is with words and self;


the war


is with the medium--to recreate it in such a way that it


can render the imaginative vision, can


"hold" the form


which the imagination creates.


Words


"are eternal actions"


in which the poet must be actively involved in order to


render the


The Poetic


"truth I must try to reach & realise.


Process: The


Creation of "Life"


The processes described in the preceding


pages


are


aspects of a single process which unifies the


consciousness


and liberates the powers of the imagination, enabling it


"make poetry," first by transforming and


recreating


experience of the organic wholeness of the self and


identity with the


"organic reality" of the cosmos, and then


by rendering this vision in new, living forms.


Each poem


renders,


"by the magic of words and


images,


this


organic


process


Each poem


by which the ooet has become enabled to


the product of this process


create


of assimilation


Ins ., -t ^-


re-creation


as well as


a Dart of the


oneoin l


movement








"All poetical impulses


are


towards the creation of


adventure.


And adventure is movement.


And the end of


each


adventure is


a new impulse to move again towards creation.


"'69


Thomas also explains the vital relationship between the


individual poem and poetic creation in terms of


process


product,


enquiryy" and


"result,


" again emphasizing


"movement":


Very much of my poetry is, I know, an enquiry
and a terror of fearful expectation, a
discovery and facing of fear. I hold a beast,


an angel and a madman in
as to their working, and
subjugation and victory,


heaval, and my effort


The new poem I


enclose,


i me, and my enquiry i


Smy problem


their


downthrow and up-


s their self-expression.
"How Shall My Animal,"


is a detailed enquiry;


and the poem too


is the


result of the enquiry, and is the furthest


can, at present, reach or hope for


The gpoem


answ
^- th '^-%4-t


mll lI .I-


as all poems are,
ar its own contr


7 0


itt.own jfluestion and


addiction ,


its own


agree-


"How Shall My Animal" is an


enquiryy"


the process of poetic creation,


into the nature of


in which the


enquiryy"


into the self and its imaginative powers of "creative


destruction,


form.


destructive creation"71


The poem renders the search,


--is


embodied in poetic


the discovery,


and the


partial


"truth" which has been achieved.


This


passage


reveals the central


concerns


of Thomas's


poetics:


The nature of


creative process and of the


n 1 n r i 11 0


tItrnsz t.


V Thg


fnnl f TATE I h


*n rF^


n r? ,-"in c c


I l l


- "V





17
process of growth which the imagination embodies in poems.


The poetic product,


then, renders process and movement;


"Poetry is the rhythmic, inevitably narrative, movement


an overclothed blindness to a naked vision.


from


n72


Thomas also tries to explain the process or "method,


as he calls it, by which the truth of the imagination

transformed into the "words and images" of a new form.


an often-quoted letter to Henry Treece,


Thomas


uses


organic metaphor to describe the method by which


created,


a poem


the role of "intellectual and critical forces" in


this process, and the relationship between the poet and his

poem:


. . when you say that


I have' not Cameron's


or Madge's "concentric movement round
image" you are not accounting for the


central


fac


it consciously i


not my method to


concentrically round a central
by Cameron needs no more than


moves around one idea, from one


another, making
needs a host of


host of


images.


full circle.


images


because


I make one


move


image.


one


image;


logical p
A coem by


centre


hough


image--t


pFcem

oint


myself


"m.ake",


is not the word, I let, perhaps, an image o
"made" emotionally in me and then apply to


what intellectual and critical


forces


I T


let it breed another, let that image cont


osse
radi


SS --


the first, make of the


the other two


together


third


image


fourth


bred


contradict


image, and let them all,
limits, conflict. Each


within my imposed


oral
formal


image holds within i


one se(
method


and coi


eds of its own destruction, ana my dialectic
as T understand it, is a constant building
breaking wnafthe imgS that come ou
central seed4 which is itself destructive
nstructive at the same time.


that


La


l


I


~


II _









critical part in the business.


But what I


want to try to explain--and it's necessarily
vague to me--is that the life in any poem of
mine cannot move concentrically round a
central image; the life must come out of the
centre: an image must be born and die in
another; and any sequence of my images must
be a sequence of creations, recreations,


destruction


either as Caeron
and this prim? ri ly


contradictions.


does, an
explains


I cannot


as others do--
his and the ir


writing
out of


believe n
through p
thing aii-w
My obj ec: u
"get thn'{ .:
conflict c


the central image--make a poem
1* r


e


If, C
-u nel


motivating expeOrience. I
single thread of action
but that is an intellectual


at lucidity through narrative,
Sas you say, conventionally to
straight." Out of the inevitable
imNages--inevitable because of the


creative
diCtery >


womb


r'ecre-ati


- -.tu- .e -T4 __


-.: aJ-


ve, destructive
the motivating


and contra-
centre, the


--I y o make th momenary


peace w.i hn is a poem. i do not want a
poem of ine to be, nor can it be, a circular
piec of ex perience placed neatly outside the


living streak o .
poem of mine is,


ti me from w'ic
whC J ./ i*1 iJ L/ C '


it, cCm ;
wa *iCjrt" g '


should be,


section of
ways, all
reconciled


agree


s ctreatm Ea;


V&U tfl7. iic. o^
for that snall


rach


t is flowing all
within it sn:ul d
stoD of time.


of my earlier


appear to constit Lute


poem; that


because I


secti
wa s


cooems


r i ia
,-, C- .^\


on rom one on
no t u e ussful in


making a momentary peace with my images
correct moment; images were left dangli
the formal l imits, and dragged the poem
another; the warring stream ran on over
insecure barriers the full stop armistic
pu:L] edt is-ted rav
pulled and twisted raggedly on into a c
ting series of dots and dashes 3


ng ov


e was
onflic-


It is


clear


from Thomas's motaphnoric description of


his i -i-thod


wit:ing


- hat


co- nTc -
-- v' C


,ct -
twl **: 41UIV- , j-


p-o e
Fmr- p -- -


orpa i .


one


which _


identi-


er


)1


poetry


i. tsei


v


I__


* ~-


Y- -


I


that








and image his creative method


creating "life."


an active process of


The rhythm and pattern of creation of the


poem is implicitly identified with the sexual rhythm of

life; the images "breed." grow, and die--"an image must be


born and die in another."


And the process of making poetry


out of the "inevitable conflict" of "warring images," which

grow out of "the central seed" in "the womb of war," also

renders the essentially creative-destructive, conflicting


nature of life's


process--


"the creative, recreative,


destructive and contradictory nature" of birth, growth,


death, and rebirth.


Thus,


"any sequence


my images must


be a sequence of creations,


recreati ons,


destruction,


contradictions,"


sequence which parallels the creative-


destructive-recreative "sequence" of life.


One point of emphasis throughout this


passage,


then,


is on the poetic process


as an ongoing


process


of growth,


conflict, and reconciliation.


The method which


cre ates


poem


identical to the


process


by which all life is


created.


Thomas's "dialectical method"


thus the poet's


version of life's organic method--"a constant building up

and breaking down of the images that come out of the


central


seed


which is itself destructive and constructive


at the same time."








poem."


Thues, the poetic process also images--through the


reconciliation of


images


and the attempt to achieve the


"momentary peace" of a completed poem--the process of self-

creation through interaction of conflicting psychic

functions--perception, emotion, reason, and imagination.

And reconciliation also images the imagination's unitive

vision of the identity of all creation; this poetic

pattern of conflict and reconciliation is the pattern of


all existence.


Through the integration of images the poet


reveals the possibilities of existence, of attaining the


unity which


grows


of diversity.


In the process of making


poem, then, the creative


imagination identiCie with the


and ultimately,


creative


the "conflicting images"


process of life;


are reconciled a


the imagination identifies with all and


thus able to


integrate the contraries


into a punitive vision.


This


pattern


parallelled both in the structure and movement


of the poem and in the poetic process by which the poet


"lets" the


Ima ges


move towards "that momentary peace which


is a poem."


contrasting


his own imaginative method with the


intellectual method of Norman Cameron, Thomas also reveals


S ne P' C ,
LJ 1Ii t


r r
I -LIi lci-


role


imagination in








with a single idea, a


"single motivating experience," and


"moves around one idea, from one logical point to another,

making a full circle"- Thomas begins with an image and


"letEs]


it breed another" and another until he has made "a


host of images" which is the


motivatingg centre" of the


growing poem.


The growth of Thomas's poem


not a


"logical" development


from a single idea, as is Cameron's,


but an organic movement in which the images breed and grow


and die.


The logic is thus the organic, unifying "logic"


of the imagination rather than the mechanical, discriminating


logic of the intellect;


it is a logic of


images rather than


of ideas.


The imagination's function is to perceive identity,


to unify, and to create a living reality;


out of


contra-


diction and conflict,


the tension of


creation and


destruction,


the imagination creates reconciliation and


unity,


the wholeness of the completed form--the


"momentary


peace which is a poem."


The imagination


creates


by making


images; and


the process of making images is what
...... -^--"- ^ ^ ^ -"---'- '- -"- .......... - -- .nii,, ..~ '-. ~ .. ...*...***" -- i -^, -.. ^ -- "~


calls "the motivating centre" of the poem.


Thomas

"host o:


images"


this


"central seed"


from which the


poem


grows.


Thomas thus


make s


clear


in this


passage


that the


image-


making function


central one


in his method of


*n-r


--- -' -r -C -r .- -n -* -. --a-


II


n


111









I prefer
thought
in the p


AT Ih! n


y . yo .
behind you, but
rocess of select


you have no guiding
"ra tnr when you are
1 c. nJ ,. c> e c 13 o r


images to suit your particular mood
selecting your thoughts to fut those


imalles .


S"proce,, ss of


selection"


thus S


an imaginative


one,


for the process occurs without a


"guiding thought" or


intellectual decision.


insignificant

and then apply


the intellect is far from


in e poetic process:

to it what intellectual


"I make one image .

and critical forces


I possess.


t 75


The intellectual,


rational mode of thought ,


then,


performs


secondary,


but crucial, function in


the making


a poem.


T>he


Sinbel1 'tu ] and


cr itical forces"


enter


the process after the imagination


created the image;


and the intellectual


forces


"make comprbehnsi b le"


the form


and image which have been


" 'made '


emotionally.


is an


integral


element


of the poet's art


renujer


imagination's truth through the medium of


intellectual oC wor


thus


enables the imagination to render


its process ana visoln,


its own


organic


ntor;,


in the most


effective verbal form--


"to write" poetry:


ifuncti on of


the intelle t


o ways


One of the art


serve


s of


compare" hensble


1 r e


wha ,t


mi ght


imaginative purpose"
J~r ..ol_,dtt ,/


_1__ __ I_ _r


1


oul ;


word s.


ii ~I





23


Craft and Art

Thomas thus distinguishes between the imaginative, or

image-making, power and the intellectual power, always

conscious of the necessity of both in achieving his


"imaginative purpose, which is to write the


best


poe: he


can." 77


And it


significant that Thomas often


associates


the poet


while


s "art" with the primary imaginative function


he identifies "craft" with "the intellectual


critical forces."


He makes the distinction between the


poet's "art" and his "craft," for example, in terms of

the limitations of poverty:


The impulse
hunger and


time and


e of a poet i
squalor, but


concentration


s not


which


by hunger cannot afford to


The "craft" is the technical, pr


affect


ted by


"craft" need
a man nagge
*78


osodicali


intellec tual


process by which


words and images


are


ordered


render, in the total! form of the poem, the


anic


process


by which the poet's imagination


creates.


Both "craft" and


"art" are essential.


The creative "impulse of the poet"


must be


made


"com rehensible" through the intellectual
com, een~bl" S


discipline of his craftsmanship; in


response


to the


question "Do you


wait


spontaneous impulse


before


writing


g a poem?"


Thomas answered "No "H


He continued










The wriLtin n:


phy s cal and men
a formally water


words -


preferably
narrative)


a poe!im l


task


to me the
of constructing


ight compartment of
with a main moving column
to hold a little of the


real


causes


brain and body.


forces


The ca


of th
uses


e creative
and forces are


and al


s their
ssaon,


or "inspirat
ally p- ica
construction


lazi


And vie


:ork'ia
e versa


To me,
i on" is


ways need a concrete
the poetical "impulse"
only the sudden, and gener-


coming of
craftsman


n re
79


ceives


energy to
ability.


fewe


st impulses.


Thomas s


QdviLC e


Famela


Hansford Johnson further


reveals


this conception


the relationship between the imaginative


and intellectual functions and


for the perfection of


the necessity of the latter


the poem:


talent


worI

ha l t a
had talr


. is not


an in


your


thinking


p


enough by itself;
oetess, the intel


craft


uch tt


' TCo
0 L -


man,


has not


You must work


talent as a scu
chiselliin., plo
making perfect.


lnt or


)tt
80


wor k


rig, rounding


stone
, edging &


a letter to Vernon Watkins,


Thomas responds


Watkins '


criticism of


one of his poems by indicating that


the poem accurately renders the experience and


feeling,


ac know e d-es


that


may not


"poetically


effective,


t 1l


we'I.


The persona]


response


C Aptt ? 1 i %LCI IC


must


be mae


effective" by the ima inat ive


alwa
exopE


"po1t1cally





25


enables him to order "the fallible creative rush of verse"83


and to make it "poetically effective,"


That Thomas places


a high value on craftsmanship is clear not only from his

advice to Pamela Hansford Johnson, but also from his

description of himself:


I am a painstaking conscientious, involved


devious craftsman in words.84

What I like to do is to treat wor


and


as a


craftsman
have-you.


does


his wood or stone or what-


Thomas further reveals the value of


severe


craftsmanship in


criticism of the Surrealists for their lack


"craft," their refusal of the conscious intellectual


control which makes the imaginative


create on r


poem rather


than a collection of unstructured archetypal


-images.


I do not mind from where the


images


of a poem


are dragged up; drag them up, if you like,


from the nethermost


sea


of th


e hidden


self;


but, before the


reach paper, they mus


through all the rational pro


intellect.


cesses


The Surrealists, on the other


hand, put their words down t


together


on paper


exactly


they


emerge


from


chaos; the


not shape these words


put them in o


order


to them, chaos i


the shape


and order


This


seems to me to be exceeding


pre sumptuous;


the Surrealists imagine that whatever they


dredge from their subconscious


selves


put down in paint


be of


some


in word


interest or value.


Must, essentially,
I deny this.86


flVbcs r~r\ncm rn nn lr "- f tCA nn y*1 1 10n 17 -5 Pl mrn








"worked-out,


if not a premeditated-in-detail, whole," in


which the imaginative "logic of my poem" dictates both


its structure


and the goal which the craftsmanship must


achieve.


Watkins


thus criticized for


suggesting


changes


"for purely musical motives."


Thomas


always conscious


of the "wholeness" of the poetic process and its product,

and of the close relationship between "craft" and "art";


thus,


"musical motives" are inadequate.


The craft--the


intellectual and critical modes--function in the


service


of the "art"--the imagination's creation of "value" in a

unique, vital, whole form:


I think you


are


liable, in your criticisms of


me, to under-rate the value


--or


: rather, the


integrity, the wholeness--of what I am
or trying to make clear that I am sayi


often to


suggest


say
ng,


alterations or amendments


ing
and
for


purely musical motives. For instance, "Caught
in a somersault of tumbled meantime" may (and


I doubt it) sound more agreeable--we'll


leave


out any suggestion of it sounding inevitable
because it is, however good the implied


criticism,


to the "prophes
of tumbled mant


its sounds
criticism


case


is that


group of words outside the


ying
ime,


poem---


ear" than "In an imagining
a line I worked out for


not in spit


of them.


your critical suggestion
your "ear" is deaf to th


of my poem;


this


e logic


"Caught in a somersault


Suddenly


cold


fish"


an ambiguous
suggestion


way your


tangle,
still do


criticism


very


es,


often


like


nonsense


I believe,


works:


but


show


towards the aural


~. t -.


1 1r ,








The "details" which the craftsman refines and orders


grows


out of the "whole, total form of the poem, and cannot be

intellectually contrived or altered except in the context


of the organic


process


by which the "whole" is created.


Thomas's actual method of composition is described by


Vernon Watkins


the craftsman's careful mode of reproducin


the imagination s


creative


process; he begins with form and


texture, out of which the


image


is creat-ed--and


poem


is made by


a process


of growth, or "building":


Dylan worked upon a symmetrical abst


rac


t with


tactile. e delicacy


nest of phrase
music, testing-


working


He was


from


S 10 v


; out


a lump of t


"host of


image"


ure


] he


created


everything by physical feeling,


concrete


patient


image


craftsman


m odcompopsitiion twas itself p a; f ul ly ow.
He used separate work-sheets for individual


lines,


soInetirnes


page


a single line, while the p


or two being devote


oem


was


gra


dually


built up, phrase by phrase.


He usually had


beforehand an


exact


cone


option of the poem


length, and he would decide


allot to


each


part of it


e how many lines t
development. 91


In response to an attack on the craftsmanship of his


poetry, Thomas vehemently


asserts


that "he


wrong


My facility,


tremendously hard

Stechen Spender w


noetr'v


- &


work.""92


rote


turned on like


he calls it, is, in reality,


In a review, according to Thomas,


that "The truth is that Thomas's


tapn it is just poetic stuff


H .is-- .


swear it.


`-c~_~---~ ------~- ~~"- --- ---- ----------- ----- ~-.~


--





28

overflow of poworfuD feelings," any more than it was for


Wordsworth.


It is, rather, created by a process in which


both imaginative vision and organic process,


well


intellectual discipline and "tremendously hard work," are


essential. 9


In this reply to Spender's criticism, he


describes his poetry as "hewn" into shape:


Spender's remark is really the opposite of
what is true. My poems are formed; they
are not turned on like a tap at all; they
are "watertight compartments." Much of the
obscurity is due to rigorous compression;
the last thing they do is to flow; they are
much rather hewn.9 5


The use of "hewn" recalls Thomas's declaration that:


What I like to do is to treat words as a


craftsman d


oes


his wood


have-you, to hew, carve
polish & plane them int


or st:ne or what-
, mould, coi]
o patterns, sequences,


sculptures, fugues of sound expressing
lyrical impulse, some spiritual doubt


some
or


conviction,


some


dimly-realised truth I must


try to reach and realise. 96


And it is also reminiscent of his advice to Pamela Hansford

Johnson, in which he also makes the analogy between the


poetic craft san


talent


the sculptor:


a scultor works


"You must work at the


stone,"97 making poems which


are "hewn ."


In such poems, the intellectual powers have


refined, polished, and ordered the imaginative materials


_




29


in his poems conflict "within my imposed formal limits."98


Thomas's description of his method of poetic creation


in the "centre of images"


passage,


recalls and clarifies


his earlier statement that "Poetry finds its own form;


form should never be superimposed." 99


organic; its "structure


express !on


process of creation.


The poem's form is


should rise out of the words and


themrn100 and out of the imaginative


The emphasis is, then, on the


mediumm" rather than on the "message"; form and


image take


precedence


over


theme and meaning, and in fact, render


theme and meaning.


originality


The uniqueness, individuality, and


the poet's creation consist in the new form


through which he


ideas.


creAte7


new life, not in original or new


The medium is the messa e.


Thomas thus praises


Oscar Williams's poems, not for their value


expressions


of ideas, but for their vitality and exuberance--their

life--and, clearly, for the individuality and originality

of their organic--rather than superimposed--form:


The p


oemC!T


condu


lives in front of the no


their prolific unpretty


of your


nerves.


They


are


ces that fly, hot


violent and


exuberantly
The wheels


unhappy,


off


poem in the making.


round, crying, protesting,


denying, on rails that


wheels


expire


towards


are


them


laid out only as
The rules, the


form, spring up urgently
making needs them.101


the temper








premise, is negative and often angry.


He attacks


E.E. Cummings and his followers, for example, because they


are "obsessed by the


idea


of form," and thus "chop up their


poems into little strips and pin them horizontally,


diagonally & upside-down on the pages,"


( italics mine).1 0 3


Thomas's frequent discussion of form and structure

reveals that he too is "obsessed" by form--but not by the

"idea of form"; rather, his obsession is with the poet's

"necessity" to make his poems living forms in which every

aspect--shape and length, word and image--grows out of the


total imaginative


basis


serves


the "imaginative purpose"


of the poem.


"There is no necessity for the artist to do


anything", his only function is to


create,


and "he has only


one limitation, and that is the widest of all:


limitation of form."''04


The poet


prosody, all the


craftsman must utilize all the "tricks" of

"technical paraphernalia" FHi] in order to


most successfully embody, in the form of his poems, the


truth of the imagination's punitive vision


the vitality


of its organic process of growth and creation:


I use everything
0work and nove i
an,, r:tove !r
to: old tricks
words, paradox,
p-Q f *t -i"cf. 1n' ^2 $ 7"".1 P^


anything to make m
e direction I want


y poems
them


new tricks, puns, portmanteau
pot "


allusi on,


paro
g^ tr. *- 1


nomasia, paragrarrm,


?'lvkTm5


vnwre P1


C-


1\I


, "I -




31


Thomas further reveals the necessity of "technical

paraphenalia"[sic] in his attack on formlessnesss" in the

poetry of his contemporaries; he states that their


formlessnesss


incompetence.


the outcome of


"106


entire prosodaical


And he praises Pamela Hansford Johnson


for her "grasp of form and


. . handling of metre.


u107


Throughout his correspondence Thomas speaks of form


in two contexts.


The total form,


which is the poem,


organic and grows out of the imaginative


process


creation; and this organic form is rendered and made

"comprehensible" through the poet's craft--his creation of


"formal limits.


Thus,


Watklns's description of Thomas's


"method of


composition" serves as a corollary to Thomas's


own description of his poetic process.


Thomas attempts


render metaphorically the imaginative process by which he

makes[] poetry," while Watkins pictures the craftsman at


work, describing the method by which he


The Poem:


"write [s]


"Burning and Crested Act" and A


"Work of


rd10a


Words"


It is nevertheless clear from many of Thomas


statements that


finds it difficult to describe


discursive prose


the imaginative


process


which


he makes


his poems.


In the


"centre of images"


passage,


he notes


in the second paragraph, he implies


that the poe


forms






32

The difficulty in expression resides in the very nature of

the attempt, for the poet gives form and life to his poems
by "letting" them grow imaginatively, and the image-:aking

function cannot be rationally explained by the poet. Yet


Thomas insists, in response to a critical statement from

Vernon Watkins, that the "forming poem is never independent

of the poet:


And. yes the poem did
at the end--: (by th


appear to
e way, I re


tire of itself
sent that "tire


of itself" idea, which arrogantly supposes the
self-contained identity of the poem even in its
forming phases; thge" uir^Qf Q
*-the Presel- _J PLlt poth lJt O .) .
; tsei~f__A" vjit the poet "has left i "t.) 10


The poet


gives


life to his creation, then, and the poem


becomes, paradoxically,


"itself'--independent of its maker,


with a "self-contained


identity,


life of its own:


The aim of
itself rma


a poem


kes:


mark


it's the bullet


hat the poem
and the bull's-


eye; the knife, the growth, and the patient.
A poem moves only towards its own end, which
is the last line. Anything further than that
is the problematical stuff of poetry, not of
That? s my oneuf ofiticl-


the poem.
if it can
poetical
poems. 11


_Thats my one critical argument,
be called that; the rest is a


and


can


argument,


only be worked out in


Each poem is both "a detailed enquiry


result


and


the enquiry";112 it is the product of the


. the

poetic


Pro Cr h Cn' n '
p-i. C> CO fl i an^<-


inage o 01


that


process.


whole, self


.*






33

Poetry is also both "a burning and crested act''14

and a "work of words," a structure of words and images

which renders the creative, unitive "act" of the creative


imagination.


Thomas's correspondence and public statements


are filled with attempts to define and describe the

essential qualities and characteristics of poetry, and a

study of these critical attempts reveals a definition of

poetry which distinguishes between "act" and "work," art

and craft, process and product, while it emphasizes their


wholeness and unity


imaged and conveyed in the poem' s


structure.


The craftsman describes poetry


as a


"work of words, "116


a "medium"117 through the structure of which the pattern of
the formative, life-giving "act" is rendered; and because

poetry is a "work of words," a verbal medium, it consists


of words in relationships.


But words tend to be static,


fixed, and unchanging; they are an intellectual medium and

therefore inherently possess "sense" and meaning, unlike


paint, stone, or musical notes.


They are thus more


limiting in terms of imaginative productions than are other


media; in 1934 Thomas.


sneaks.


of "my knowledge of their


inadequacy. "


Yet he also reaffirms hnis commitment to the


"wordy" existence, despite its inherent difficulties:








poetic process, revitalize and recreate his words, dealing

with them "as a craftsman does his wood or stone,"l

reshaping and renewing them and rendering them more


expressive.


FEach word must be "valued according to its


individual life",120 only then can words be living, concrete


realities and thus exist in active,


within a poem.


vital relationships


Poetry "should work from words from the


substance of words and the rhythm of substantial words set


together


Poetry


a medium, "121 then, in which


words exist in relationship.


Thomas


).erceives


words


the raw material which the


poet-as-craftsman can "hew, carve, mould, coil, polish &


plane


. into pattern sequences, sculptures, fugues
into >ctc..-, -.,, fuue


of sound,"122 which can


image


process


and pattern of


creation in


living form.


Words are forTh mas rcncrete


entities--objects with-~ Vape4 texture colour, and sound

as well as meaning:


You must endeavour to feel and weigh the shape,
sound, content of each word in relation to the
shape, sound, content etcetera of the words


surrounding it.
the words that
syllable adding
next, but it is


word s


It isn't only the meaning of


must develop harmonically,


each


to the single existence of the
that /jhich also informs the


with their own particular life:


no se, that is, that they m


ear, the contour


in the air and


s in which they lie on the


pare


a r th


mind,


their


colours and density.123


u* *n--





35

admired because of the active vitality of the language:


You use words like


missing,
melting,


churning,


stones, thr
sharpening,


and a hard firewater f


through them all


owing, rockerying,


bloodsucking,
lows and rolls


the time.


And he praised two of the poems sent


him by an unknown poet


"because


the word


s are


objects"


and the poems thus


"make an


immedia te impact.


Thomas's insistence that words be


valued


"objects" or forms with real,


physical life leads


him to deemphasize meaning,


though not to dismiss it--he


disliked Gertrude Stein's repetition of simplicitiess over


and over again in intricate and abstract patterns


the meaning shall be


that


lost and only the bare and beautiful


shells of the words remain.


that his poems, and
..^< /K ++^ /y:* ~/wwy~~


,i 126


Rather,


the revitalized word


Thomas demands

s with which they


are made,


be taken


"literally,


that


is rid of all


their


[external] associations"; 12
'~ - - ,>-,,,. .- ^ - ... ^- ^- "- -^**J""- .. .. . ^ ^ - -.^- ^ ^


" ask only that m oetr
:"* .. ..-- *~-WlW ;"" a s.-^":^


should be taken literally."128


By "taken literally," Thomas means that the poem must


be encountered on its own terms,


as a total individuated


form which can be apprehended only in the context of


own life.


The poem thus


lives its own life, as he said of


Oscar Williams's poems, and must be perceived only in terms


of the


associations


and relationships which it establishes.








of the lines in the context


the poem12 --are irrelevant


to the experience and reality of the poem.


Meaning--of


individual words as well as, poems-Thomas insists,
I"IT | -I "~ -'


less


important to bot poet and reader than the texture, shape


and sound--the structure--of words in relationship:


"I'm


never very hot on meaning. It's


the sound of meaning that


I like."130


Thomas does, in fact, quote Eliot on the


uses


of meaning in a poem:


Remember Eliot.


"The chief use of the 'meaning"


of a poem, in the ordinary


sense


, may


satisfy one habit of the reader, to keep his


mind diverted and quiet, while the poem
its work upon him. "131


does


The poem "does its work" on the reader's imagination


through form and image, the texture and rhythm


"substantial words


together"; 32 these are the concerns


of the


worker


in words:


The meaning of a poem you cannot, as
talk about in any way constructively


must be left
pnhilosophers,


only the
discussed


theoretici


ans,


sentimentalists,


texture
at all


a poem that


Nobody,


a poet,
that


logicians,
etc. It i
can be


think, wants


talk, either
he finds it


about how


poem


emotionally moving


feels
or he


to n
does


.im;
n't,


and, if he
except the
which this


does,
means


there's nothing


words


emotional feeling


discu


themselves,


wa s


aroused.
& -" r\i ,j


The "words


are


the "stuff" of poetry; the


themselves"









the texture and movement of


your words. no


their meaning Cfor the meaning that any poetry


can convey is
in every langu


common to all readers and writers


age)


of which the poetry


but to the
is made)


stuff itself
3 .-


Thomas further insists that a successful


poem is one


in which the woras and images are


"inevitable,


" in which


each component partakes of and contributes to the organic


form of the whole.


"the one right word"


word or phrase is inevitable if


;and, he writes to Pamela Hansford


Johnson,


"There must be no compromise;


there is always the


one right word:


use it.


rr 36


Responding to a genteel


criticism from Miss Johnson,


Thonma s


asserts


that


"there is


reason at all why


I should not write of


gunmen,


cinemas,


& pylons


if what


I have to


necessitates


Those


words & images were essential


I 13


Inevitability is the


only standard in choosing the words which


"what


I have to


say" demands; and the


inevitable


"one right word"


rises


of the necessity of the


form.


critic


Thoma


asserts,


inevitability is


the standard


which he judges


"a line of


poetry";


eac


h word and line must


further the structural


movement of the poem to


"its own end":138


One dis
one dis


agree
cover


it could be


s with a line of poetry becau


that


change


is not


the wrong word


inevitable,
s have been


used,


or the right words in the


wrong order,


indsrvn fnl


ch novfl CYEZ


them n bout


In the mi nd


- L-































-4 -
5- C -

-4- -4-- 4-4


- 4


r /- P -


- -


-~ %~ -

- ~-. ~ 4


-- -- -


-

4 -. -


t ~~J ..L ~-


r - -
<- *-* ~- -r --


1 4. *: -~ f


*


-- -


*4
4-1 - -- -
A_ ~ ~ ~ x-. -- v *- -* - ^- ~


- -i- w


- --


--h


- - i-L - r


- -


- I


- 4


w- -- 4 -

-* -*


4:

-~ --


- i -- *-


- 4


- ~-


. - --


4
- - 4

- .-


-- -


I -


4

*- -- - --


5- -4--


r -


- t ~ -


** : -


-44


* '- ^- -- -


4
-4


- - -


- 4-


- 4


- -


S:-* -1- ~- -

- -4 - -4 vI* =*- .4-


-~ -4 - ~- -4-- r -4 -~

- 4- -4- 4- 4


- 4. -4-

- '*4 -


. '- 4 -


,-. 4.~ "'4
- --4 4-
- 4- ~- -~ 4#-


_- -


r

*4- ~4 -


, f -

4- __ _-.- -- -- 4:


-~ - t


-. -


- 4-. 4-


: ---
-- - -


-+ 4


* -- -


- 4

4me


4m


- 4--


r- -4
- 4- ~ 1-4


. 4


- r - -5
44- -


r 4- -m -m -

-4- -- ^ .---.- 0
._. __ .*4-. -


*
^- -1 - r^

-141-4 : .- -- -


* 4 ~4
- - r- -
-4 -4
--4 -4----- - -


- 4 -


- - -- -


*- 4 -"


*- 4 -


-4 4-


- 4 4


4- 4- -
--- i-4.


-.- r --


S ~~- -4-


-4 -4 *


- -- -- 4- -


- 4


- -


4-' -4- ~4 -
-4
- -4 - -4


+ 4 - 4- +


- -


- -


- 4- -, -
- ^ '44 4-


S- ^- -
-4


*4

- __ _


- -4 4 - -- 4- 44 -


* -


S- t-- *-


*- - -


4


-4 -. A


m c xp


tf -m


^ "


- - -


V- rK:, M W ^


I. -R -


.-- ? -z


S:


L _T Mh I mr Js


. - -


- 11


-. -


,;"r


- - r:- _ .- *


r ^


~".::


:"-. - -


- T _


:5, .
x m


_ <*. -


__r:


: f: ~


*4U :^^f fl ^t








You can tear a poem apart to


see


what makes it


technically tick, and say to yourself,


when


works are laid out before


consonants,


you,


the rhymes & rhythms,


the vowels,


"Yes,


_s it.


This


is why the poem moves me


so.


is because of the craftsmanship.


you're


back again where you began.


You 'r


e back


with


the mystery of having been moved by words.


The best craftsmanship always leave


hole


gaps
that
or th


in the works of the poem


is not in the poem can creep,
under in.


so that something


crawl,


flash,


that matters is


"the mystery of having been moved by


words.


" And the


"something that


is not in the poem"


something that cannot


explained by the craftsmanship,


"work on words"


attempts to


alone;


convey


is something which the poet


through metaphors of life's creative


movement,


energy, and power--"creep,


crawl,


flash,


thunder."


The poem


exists


for the reader


a living,


concrete


taken


reality; and Thomas thus demands that his po


"literally"


erms


and encountered imaginatively by


readers ,


the strangers,


I 1 44


living moments of


experience.


"inevitable,


" organic


form of the poem--and of its


parts in relation to one another--speaks to the reader


emotions and imagination.


"moves" the


reader


on a


deeper


level


than the rational.


Earli


in the


"Poetic


Manifesto" Thomas


"defines" poetry


solely in terms of its


emotional


effect,


ability to


"move" the reader through


his emotional


response


"eternal movement"


of the


thu ~





40


makes me want to do this or that or nothing,"
and let it go at that. All that matters about
poetry is the enjoyment of it, however tragic


it may b


All that matters


the eternal


movement behind it, the vast undercurrent of
human grief, folly, pretension, exaltation, or
ignorance, however unlofty the intention of the
poem.145


All that matters is the vital


n movement


process


which the


poem brings to its readers.


Whatever the response to a


poem, the "magic" and the power and value of its existence

derive from the fact that "it moves":


Almost anything one says about poetry is a
and important as anything else that anyone


has
magi
auth


true
Ise


said. Some people react physically to the
c of poetry, to the moments, that is, of
entic revelation, of the communication, the


sharing,
experlen
kind of


at its hi
'^'\^e*


sort of a


"thin is the


ghe~ C


level, of personal


Others
vague


real stuff."


say th
feeling
Others


at they h


ave


somewhere that


claim that


their "purely aesthetic emotion" was induced by
certain assonances and alliterations. And some
are content merely to say, as they said of the
first cinematographic picture, "By God, it
moves." And so, of course, by God, it does, for
that is another name for the magic beyond
definition . .146


In his insistence that the poem "does its work" by


an appeal


emotional and imaginative apprehension,


rather than to te rational, intellectual understnderstauding

of its "meaning," Thomas implicitly demands what Susan


Sontag has called "an


erotic s


of art."147


For in his


II







embodied in its structure,


thus rendering it a


"burning


and crested,


" living reality.


"mystery"-for both


poet and reader--resides in the very experience of


creation.


This


act of


"burning and crested act"


creation and its product


is both the process-


it is also the pattern of


all life, and the poet actively experiences this formative

pattern in his imaginative and loving encounter with the


"literal world,


in his self-creation and unification, in


his revitalization of language, and in his actual creation


of a new living form in the poetic process.


imaginative experience of these modes of


Through his


creation,


poet comes to his unitive vision of the identity of all

existence in terms of the creative process; and the


structural basis of his poem--as he describes it,


example,


in the


"centre of images" passage--is this pattern


of the formative, creative


"act.


The poem does not


explain but rather renders the imagination's


identification and creation; and it does


"act"


through its


structure and texture and through the relationships


established within the poem itself.


Thomas makes this


explicit in his advice to Pamela Hansford Johnson concerning


a poem in which she attempts to reveal her


sense


of rela-


tionship with nature by direct, rational statement, by

telling rather than by structurally and imagistically






42


blood is drawn from the veins of the roses,


do you provide any proof.


You


gave


rose a human vein, and you gave your own


vein the blood of the ro


relationship.


"I am his son,


.ow that is
" means little


compared with "I am his flesh and blood.


is a final compression of what I want


say about the
16 lines are
Though you ta
of yourself t


tionship
you examp


"Poem,
all sep
1k all


" . . As it is, the
arate, too separate . .
through of the relationship


o other things,


there is no rela-


at all in the poem between the things
le. If you are one with the swallow


& one with the rose,


the swallow.
talk of, show,


then the


rose


Link together these


is one with
things you


in your words & images, how your


flesh covers the tree &


you.


see


the tree'


what you have done,


flesh covers
course--"I


am one with the opposites," you
I know, but you must prove it to
yourself to the opposites and by


opposites together
did you do it.148


Only in


say.
me by


You are,
linking


linking the
"rose" line


The structure of the poem,


the relationship of words,


phrases,


lines to each other


reveals


the punitive


"act.


Thomas


asserts


that the poem creates new associations,


embodying them in unique


linkingg"


images and words.


Poetry reveals the unifying truth of the


imagination


vision; Miss Johnson's poem,


for example,


attempts to


reveal


ner


sense


of the


identity of all


creation.


And the


poem must reveal

expression--in im

direct statement.


this


the imagination's mode of


iages--rather than in

To .paraphrase Thoma


the rational mode of

s. "I am one with the


S. ------t


This


,"


. -


1 . .. .


*, n j .i i _ i








Thomas declares, several


years


later


, that the rendering


of this unitive vision, this perception of identity, is


precisely the goal of his own poems:


with everything


"'seeking kinship,
kln"'nl. -


S. is exactly what I do do."149


Poetry, Thomas further insists, is "about"


poetry--


"I prefer what I think about verse to be in the verse,"150


he wrote to Oscar Williams.


And in a letter to Henry Treece


he discussed the difference between "social awareness"

revealed in poems through images, and poetry which is about

politics:


My poetry isn't concerned with politics
(supposedly the science of achieving and
administratingg" human happiness) but with
poetry (which is unsentimental revelation
and to which happiness is no more important--
or any other word--than misery).151


The poetic


process


is, Thomas reveals in the "centre


of images"


passage,


an essentially organic and imaginative


one, in which the images breed, grow, conflict, and die into


newly-created images and into ultimate reconciliation.


product of such


a process is also, therefore, organic,


creative and living; although a poem


a static object.


fixed on paper, its form


creative,


organic--imaging the


"organic reality" of life:


active,


"Poetry, heavy in


tare though nimble, should be as orgiastic and organDiL-s.
-1wa+:4 hougham








"living stream of time


that is flowing all


way>0


Ape sa via nd"S
A poem is a vital and important moment of human expeorience

and a significant image of reality:


A good poem
The world i


poem ha


. -- tf V .- .


is a contriuut
s never the sam


s been add


to it.


ion U


o reality.


e once a good
A good poem
-, S S /in S


helps to chang-u Ue shape ana sgniih.canc
of the universe, helps to extend everyone
ledge of himself and the world around him


e
's kn


As Thomas


wrote


to Vernon Watkins,


a poem should be "an


event, a happening, an action perhaps, not a still-life or


an experience put down, placed, regulated."


And in hi s


discussion of Sir Philip Sidney's


Astrochel


and


Stel a,


Thomas emphasizes the growth of the sequence


e from poems


which are "still life" to


those


which


"events," from


poems about experience to poems which are living,


"striding


and burning" embodiments of experience:


They begin with elegance and pretence, poems
moving like courtiers dressed in the habit


of love.


They


are


love; they addre


of it.


The rapture


about love, they are not in
love, they do not speak out
s are almost easily come by;


the despa
They are
about to


almo


most p
in love


easily


perfect


relinqu ished.


exerc lseC


And Penelooe


inarr


a man


ied,


and Sidney had lost her, and the


no l longer rehear
poetry itself, s
In these sonnets
for us, a whole


sales for a poetic
triding and burning


see


progress


sonnet


s were


event but


held still in time
s of passion.155


And he crit


1C


izes one of V.atkins s poems because


o w1--


I






45

blowing and growing past, between pages
I think I ask you for a little creative
destruction, destructive creation. 156


He admires Henry Miller

has . more guts and

books have . but it


work, therefore, because "it


blood in it than new English prose


is a pity he writes, so often, in


the old literary way to achieve it."157


Thomas describes the kind of poems he wants to write

in terms which emphasize both the concrete, vital nature of


the poems and his sense o

active processes of life,


>f their living relationship to the


the poems are experienced by


his reader


"I want to build poems big &


soli d enough for


people to be able t


walk


sit about and eat


drink and


make love in them"158


One function of poetry, then,


affirm life's creative


process


by creating concrete


actualized life which can be lived in;

out of "heart and mind and muscle, 159s9


the poet writes

the reader


experiences the poems emotionally and sensually


as well


imaginatively.


"Art is praise," Thomas declares,


"and it


sane


praise, for


, praising, we praise the


odliness that


gives


us sanity."16 0


The poem is a poem of life--in "praise" of


life's creative


process


and potential.


Writing poetry is


n-in 4 n r, A fl V~

f ntrrt rrA r- f3 rrn+ r'v^


1* -





46


I read somewhere of a shepherd who, when
asked why he made, from within fairy rings,
ritual observances to the moon to protect


his flocks, replied:
f I didn't!" These


"i'd be a damn'fool
poems, with all their


crudities, doubts, and confusions, are
written for the love of Man and in praise
of God, and I'd be a damn' fool if they
weren't.162


Poetry, then, is "celebration" and "prai se";, and

the poet is motivated by "love of man" and of the creative


potential which he


shares


with God and nature.


The making


of poems is, for Thomas, an affirmative act of creation by


which the poet e

nature's pattern


- p <


in the creative process which is


life.


The poet thus "imitates" nature


by engaging inl the


identical process of creation; and, like


nature's,


Thomas


assorted, the poet's creative


process is organic.


The "organic" poem is not, however, a


replica of an


organs. 1


creature and therefore physically


alive in the


same


that


a man or a flower is; rather,


the poem's vitality consists in the fact that it renders

and embodies--in image, structure, texture, and movement--


the organic,


formative


process--the


creative


act--by which


it, and all organic creatures,


ar'2


made.


Nature


creates


physical forms.


The poet


creates


verbal structures, and


in both


cases


the forms are unique, self-suffic ient, and


vital; the completed poem has "a self--contained identity"--








And Thomas finds his


the creation of living forms.


subject in this commitment, the Collected Poems are

embodiments of the creative process which brings them into


existence.


Thomas's volume of poems is a celebration of


creation in all its multiform modes.


The Poetics and the Poems:


A Critical Method


Thomas's poetics also provide a critical method of


reading his poems of life.


The "centre of images"


passage


metaphorically describes Thomas's conception of the organic


process by which his poems


are


created, revealing that it


a growth pattern which begins with a "central seed"


images and builds a completed structure.


begin with this completed artifact and


The critic must


perceive


structure by


process of "centering"


--a


reversal


creative pro


cess


which, Thomas tells us, makes the poem;


the critic thus moves from analysis of the


larger


element s


of structure to an apprehension of the "central

crucial relationships of words and images which


seed,


create


movement, pattern, and process--what Thomas called "texture"


inherent within the external structure.


Thomas


asserts


primary value of such an analysis and, in fact,


states


t ha t


poetry can only be discussed in terms of structure and

texture:










by which the


poem


"moves. f


By texture, Thomas


c clearly


referring to internal structure and


relationships,


movement


poem


"to its own end. 6 5


Thoma s


demands-- and


exemplifies
r,' y p. rn .1'~ ^^pc
C2^U*J /-pW-- ,1-05


in his


r emarks


a b O t


others'


poems--a


critical


method


which


emphasizes


necess it


ner' T ion


poem' s


"who] eness"


"integrity" through
0nes --0,..


aesthetic c


ana ~sis


elements of


which


Poo 's
0 ^ i~C


structu ure


is built;


eah


element--each


.word--mu'st be "value,-od a>in to its individual flif'


S166


as well


relt 1 ons I C
1 *L. scu-f M fl/J J *-


elements
r "


of the


po em.


study


of a


poem


mus t


SI T1rp S'


fo"us


these


relationships within


poe:n S


total,


o'<- P


An-


each


poem,


accord ng


Thoma s,


unique


art 41 lar-


which


estab i 'shes


ownl


context


own


terms


analysis.


Thomasi s S


criticism 1


Dame


_d- UO


Sitwei- l s


sociological


analysis '


a line in"Altarwise


O, T^4- nt
0 wl-4~ ---n


an analysis,


other


.wor ds,


based


re p eence


ideao


which


are


out: de St


poem-- serves


Sx l "L r2 le


critical method


.i ch


felt


Deems


demand:


Edith Sit
atlac-eat
mandrake


or 1K


- th


anrial s iv i


i th


very va3e an a.
lines refer to
sensat uion-lovi
life T She do


-a T


orr r 1 '^C-

"the vie


n< :1
@17-


. of the ]


Y^- __T
F e r e". _,


S- yi<


horro- lo


'


take


KS. -


- .^c ^'
-. -* i -, --
lih .


z e ems
-." _- -^ .*1t
She
a rt:4


-- Q '


%0 ,--


"The


me


of modern


----- C _


Cr .. b JLt


S


other


sc ea1" *I


t t I


_I




49

select elements which exemplify particular thematic or

prosodical theses of the critic; it is also invalid and


irrelevant


attempt to define critical progress,


reveal similarities,


differences, and influences, or


"prove" generalizations about theme,

through comparison and contrast of p


"meaning," and style


articularr parts of


poems--individual images and words separated from their


created context.


Poetical progress and development can best


be perceived in the context of a close study of the structure,

texture, and movement of those poems which reveal important


poetic achievements


awakening and growth of


well as render the crucial moments

creative power and ability in the


poet's growth as a creator, his


"struggle


from darkness


towards some measure of light.


"168













CHAPTER II


CELEBRATION OF UNITY IN NATURE'S CREATIVE-DESTRUCTIVE


PROCESS:


"THE FORCE THAT THROUGH THE GREEN


FUSE DRIVES THE FLOWER"


A central focus in Thomas's Collected Poems


on the


autonomous consciousness within the poem;


this


"I" )of the


poems


the poetic consciousness which makes the poem and


whose act


rendered in the poem's movement.


The poems,


then,


are


not autobiographical descriptions;


poems is not Dylan Thomas,


the man.


Rather


the "" in the

it is Thomas's


creative


' r-:
- .^ ^ -


: mar nation,
_ ---*^ f -ag\ *- *-' "- *- j


which


trans, orms


raw


material of


sensual


perception


intellectual


understanding
^iri/ o''''^^Uc'^ !i


into


living images which


embody


value and reality of


the poet's imaginative vision.


yzven


poems such as


"Fern


Hill"


and "Poem in October,"


which


clearly


have


their


source


man


personal


experience,


this


ma trial


trans-


formed and


given


shape and


value


by the


poet' s


imagination.


Doems


referred


"the


poet,"


then


understood


mean the autonomous,


Imagining,


creating


consciousness


which


maKes


poem,


rather


;han


Dylan


Thomas,


personality.


Thomas himself


I I I


I I f J f


-^ ) I -


1 (


When


*I I








What's more, a poet is


poet for such a very


tiny bit of his life; for the rest, he is a
human being, one of whose responsibilities


to know and feel,


much as he can, all that


is moving around and within him, s
poetry, when he comes to write it,


that his
can be his


attempt at an expression of the summit of man's
experience on this very peculiar and, in ]946,
this apparently hell-bent earth.1


The "human being," then, must sensually and intellectually


experience


"wonders" of self and the world to the


fullest extent possible, in preparation for those moments


imaginative,


tic creation.


It is the poetic, creating function of the imaginationfl


whose


of creation


embodied in the poems.


Each poem


renders the imagination' s creative


process


in terms of a


sin l"e,
<- } C)^


concrete

poem.


e


experience


of it--in the making of that particular


Thus, the experience and act


the "I" of each poem


is unique;


the differences in structure, image, pattern,


and movement among Thomas's Collected Poems--from early

late--reveal the Frowth and expansion of the creative


powers


the irnagnation"--frcm' the "I" which is "dumb to


tell" its unity with all creation, to the "I" which has the

imaginative ability to submerge itself in complete unity


with life's


proce


and to create celebration and


"ceremony"


the destructive


process


an event such


as a "fire raid."











with the no .'; l


must imitate-.

central concern


whi L the creative con, ciousness


S- '[ i *
4- _C -^ -


Accord I n to J iioina2 poc e- t' poet's

s a creator is "to bring these wonder
0" a); ZO!1 ,,b ]


into myself": and render his punitive vision of the creative


process ;in the form of


poem.


The poem


itself


recreation


emotional, inte] lectual and ina inative


experience of nature's process and of the crecatuive


msgination 's role andC function in it.


And each poem


itself arn imae of the process which is its subject and


both


IT I a l
Cnai 'y' nd


process and the product,, the


"r e 1i iT
x~'A -^ %/ -, 4^


Many of the


-p -> V
I. V-' ;


in the first h ?lf


of Thomas s


Co l e ct ted


Poem 7


>o s -u" l
U L-'* *c i ^ -- ^ 1


Sco r e spnd:in r to the volumes


Poems


].


(193) --reveal then elves


attempts to render in verbal
5 "0* LF r O


an i mages"a

the "o~rga, c


the


Si\


maGic


of words


poets actI ve aind ovin encounter' with


-, 4
Sreli-ty
J ..IJ LL


of ihe natural world, and his


imagina tive


N X In *- *
p^ t' IN> I, Lor / ^I


the c'reat ive-d-structve


process


of life.


'i~ jT!C r'


also render his perception of the


unity of all

and .aata.


cx;s.nc1e


SI- o A


Sin t s -
SLi


- C1 ) *-A -i L ^ <-


Sproc- '' r


staten Sr:r


of birth, grot-h,


inr letter


written ,dut~n r-p


U i r1


p e ri o i


a.so


deal w ith the emot i .a 1


i4 api U
-j_ -^-1-. i*- - .- ;-- *


f, n Si.n .


"ob ec .'


ro> o C


1


thelTie- the cein,,









The poet's a tempt to embody


"these wonders"


nature's


c rOeati m,


in the earlier poems,


structural jIn


rigidly controlled almost symmetrical


stanzaic


forms.


Yet within these intellectually controlled external


forms,


imaginati "ve


"act"


embodied in the int

vital relationship,


end.


identification and creation


-ernal structure of "words and


which moves the poem


" Early poems which attempt this,


images"N


"towards its own


with varying


success,


i tnil~ Ie


Process


In The Weather Of


Heart,


"This bread I Break"


(45),


You Not


"Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines"


"W1hen On


The Twili .hL


Locks


Longer"


(1 ),


"Foster The Li


ght"


"Here In This Spring"


(53), and


The Boy


s Of Su er


(1).


Al thO ugh s tructurall


the;matically


similar to


these other early poems,


the poem which most successfully


exempt


ifies


this attempt, and


achl


eves


of rendering


the imaginative percepti


of the


essence


creative-


destruct


Droc


ess
to C


existence and of the poetic creator's


identification with it


s "The


Force


That Thrnou h The


Green


Fuse Drives The


Flower"


(10.


This poem


also1


renders the


-K-
p


poet


c sense


inability to communicate ef fectiv ely---


c "And I am dumb to bell"


-.with


the other organ ic


-I I 1 i


Father,


degrees


:rea t ure,


I


*^


(54),


1 1 J 1


- -,











first stanza of mijn Tje E-fli n:inp' "


t4 ft V^


"one":


One e ;e o f li ,t
One bo ,L of bone


ac- ros
across


!the empty


'-,).


He is an intivid Juated and d:ifft rn iated


cr'T ciousnes, .


a) ton.ooiL p erci ver who is separate and distinct


from


world whinh ,n


r raceiVes
iC> -' L jL


"The Foruc


Green Fuse


DrT -


The Flo2w1cr"


this dif feren tiat


con-c lou ness- ---'1 t


----perceivesI


essen

C o o -'-*- 'i- -* "p
O s I/ -J C--


*Icen 2 -ty w-ic


r j l. S
U(JL ,*


bi^'elf


natural


waU ]


d; yet


his f ai lur :


-e d r~1


5--- B 0 i


-o ;
t' */A.


unto my


veins"


' crlanic


.--.
'.- \h


c, ..^-^1 "v-i ^ ^ k- / *S


p o i


itself,


t h en,.


1:aa'e c
'-0


process of~ gro


wth-- not c nly inO


Ver o:


natural


--pe -^ -
? '.. *^-t ..>


whi h


5 s'tbject,


c7so


renders


tilh


QW0i


grow 0h


as a creator


, throughg his


laenti f'ca'on wit o tne


process and


Sonsc iousness o his finc v1on


"t e] er


Tho;a s onc'e


cold Vernon atkins


Sth1 ;
. 1 -Id. U-


Watkins


failed


to understand
,,.. 1a p},T .,


"thel


my poem.


And


l -. --
.1


"The Force


Tla;, -r


Throu gh
6..


Grn-en


Fuse Drives The Flower"


is the 3oic of cnat r'- d L ec1cal


2roces3 r- rather


than of
-! V -. * ^ mi


the min' s.

and i"maes"


The pOe(


describe


like
t1- A e^


the proc '; w-ich its


"word4


a"7__ _____C____ 1___ _-_ llliri--a-- an d d a th


-. 1-


Trat 1hrou


feelA


1 a- ,1r < <. 4


--* --. ^ -- r _- --. -^ --- -^ ^ '' ^ rH ^ -- __


<1


' 'V *-* *- --. --**


realit 1h 0*
- C-i L I v; t. [ 2 L ---


wO.el I





55


to a revelation and embodiment of thi. creative-destructive

process of lif1L and of the poet's relationsihip to it; he is

a pa$sKve participant in the process-.as is the "crooked rose,"

for example--yet he also takes an active part in the process
.- -- - -^ .._ - -- -"* - *"*"** -"" ~-^ *" --^ ,


creator.


All of the linguistic.


through his function as
.mo d < y^ ^ ^^ ___ ___ 0 4,^__^ __. ^__^ J. ."" -,--- ^ ^ ^ ^ __ ^ ^^^^ _ ^ ''


modes of embodying the creative-destructive process function

to strengthen the "host of images" which represents the

essential imaginative creation, the "central seed" out of

which the pet' "craft" and "art" create the artifact.
which poet' "-craft" and ce te he art- act


The poem consists of four five-line stanzas


control] e


-mn ,C' b


t,]lnt]_y


of almost identic syntactical struct ur e


and a concluding couplet which recapitulates the concluding


couplets of


each


of thi


four


stanzas.


Each stanza is


closed, with


a f1u1 stop at the end of the final line;


each stanza consists of


of direct statemenc. s


images


in the synta( cical structure


imaginative cr:- tiorn


thus


rendered in the inteltlectual form of the declarative

sentence:


The force that through the green fuse drives the flower


Dri


ves


7ie&O


n ago;


Two elements of the structure, tihen--the closed stanzaic form

and the declarative e sentences which "carry" the images--are


rational modes of expression. But the


pattern of the poem--,








movermeot i. par a. le


the -at.onrh.ip between the


sentence form--an Inte lectualu


sLr uctu1e-and the


images


which "c conflict "


within it.


Thi s structural


combination n of the in eliectual and


imaginative modes of understanding and expressing the poet's

vision--*xemplfieU by the integration of the sen ence and


ia e-- reveals


ima intion, i


the integration of"


which is necessary for the


intellect and


poet's achievement


of the


creative


act;


this


structural


device,


then,


it self


images t he union of "craft"


"art t


wh:Ih Thomas's poetics


demand

which t


The i n t llee c tua 1


e poemn embodi es


under st and ing


the process


revealed in the fact that


/
///s


the po


is in statement


L( rrn5


S*-S Q


Imaginative


apprehension


A
.1


and identification with


process


are


\^ -- .- ^.J- J y v- -i }-^ 2^-t-.J) i -^ *^S


by the


fact


that the sentences consist only of


r -- s--


create ions


imagination which embod;


a'SAd 0show, rather


than state, re ationship.


Thus


the poo ri rend ers


truth


by both


eb9odving


stating it


S r chr


integration of


the imaginative and intellectual functions of


cre-tive-


i: nd in the


act


The poem's rhth' arnd movement


a e


accomp'h- .d


through


movement


of the


L)YK c'p -L


and oausa i


Daten anr
Li L OtU~J C-1iIC dCi1


through


'1s i T! c
Ilt t 1jC '' I- sGJ-\-


oscv il -tion
*^~~~~ ~~ v l--- ^


b et we;


creative and









creation and destruction.


The pausal patterns, for example,


emphasize the relationship between the two modes of creation


and destruction.


In the first two stanzas the images of the


opposing yet complementary powers of the "force" are


separated by


semi-colon--a partial rather than a full


stop--inr the middle of the sentence which makes up the

first three lines; and this pause indicates both connection

and separation. Thus, the semi-colon\ emphasizes the image


shift from the creative to the


destru oive


nowe' --


from


"drives the flower" to bl-asts theo


root


The force


that


Drives my green
Is my dest.rover


t mough t


age;


that


pi ss


fuse drives the flower


roots


of tr


- t- -
--i r -^-
<4 ^"


,T t' "
[4c .


The force that drive


Drives my e blood a d
Turns mine to wax


through the
thp mou things


.1 1 -
r o c ks
.3 &L 1 -


In both stan2 as the first onie-aid-a-bal f lioe


p* ruO in


the semicolon, i


mace


rc ation zndthe


one-and-a--nnhall


lines foil owingl the seomicolon, embody destruction


integral
.^. *4"'^<'*


relatio1


nI ;hi p


Lw --


create ion


/i ^ ^-i-
i .L^tt'L 4- i -


thu s
. .'-


T- ..


by the sOmicolon.
I ""^/ >t.'. '-


In the t P.ird s t i ar z, inr contrast. ,


tu fd-df


U o
C' C' '1 .fl t L


occurs in the


sam


position


in the fI rst two, there


images of both creation and destruction on, bot' sides f the
- -


sec- -' ^










SThe third stanza thus


-< ] s S


tic poet' perception of an


even closer ]ink between create ion and dostrtuc:.tion than


imaged in the syntax of the first two stanzas.


,., c.1i _., c


one and two the poet perceive s that the same "force" is


both creative


Sdestruct, t u ive. ;


In the thi rd stanza the


forces of life arid


dceat i


axe


sen as identical -- the "hand"


PC ar sr -^


and


o c' t r;
cot.--J1 i*-', 0) C)


"hir s the water in t he pool" and


.L L/ i u, sn, mci i.n


S-,
'i ct i.<


syntactlci unlit.


*r
w11E?


fo ur th


). a -, a r -za


coK letc s


. poets percent: on of the identity


of the force of li e and death; and thio perception is
i" the movu.nt of th, seicolon to the end of the
'nar:(.- in th inoveii." "tf th 1 -- ^olo to the end of the


f rsct ino.


This


paat >


stop l


the end of the first line,


open endc-ines of the f first lines of the


first .


t 1r


ta .


a lters


r." t,.: and novemient of this


sta,,
^ 4 -r i n/Ct'


Sre


it more abirup. and


, ', J _t


furtr&r oion5 o
-I '1 wl O J fllpVC$SI -- - LQ>-i ^ CT.


of life and


idea s


S nt 1 if -ca on


Ssin e ic. e: .


.processes


'"The lis of time


1ee c h


the founta!tn cicd.",


The -pa usa atten


the poem also render the


separation beten the pts perception of life's proce
"u--t jC!.On 3fl6.t., O.C "3 co copio 01 112f? s e oc


anrd his


S ''r
C><^ i I, o


of his function "to tell" it to himself and


to the.


O r g nic


r. i a l. v,-, i' C COiL1 e. o 1


The firs three


)J ^ c,


eac h


-' qm -7> 4
k 4. i' r 0


i) > atical .7~7
-- . *.,


Qandc " r ctic ,- emb ody




59


stop which ends -he stanza; and this free-running sentence


focuses


on :he poet -s i cginat Lve attempt ,nd


SOcS I---


tell" "how" his existence is identical] to that of each

object" of the "literal world."


The concluding couplet--the coda of the poem--


r.capI tulates the earlier couplets in imagery and form.


rhyth, of oscillation between images of creation and


destructi on throughout the poem moves the


poen:


b2 ~c ia.


forth to its ultimate end in this coda, in which the lack


separating punrctuation unites with imagery that yokes


i .f


and death--"the lover's tomb"--to render the roet'S unltive


it


/ vson in the co


next


of his Lunction


"til ler 1


ci tea trr


of a form which is capable of embodying the truth of his

imaginative vis ion.


The oscillating pulsatingg movement of the poem--as


it alternates between the


creativeI


and de strIuc ive powers


of the same "force"


movement


--is


created


augmented by the rising and falling


variance& in ine lenth of the


first three


srnas y *
b L-i z s.


whE oh


ar


rhythmica ly and syntactica 1y
S'/ -" I.


identical.


In each of these stanzas, the first two long 6


lines -with


a pause


in the middle of the


second


line--move


toward the short, abrupt, full-stoppcd third line.


risin flin of tn first ine parallels the powerful


1..~ .. - _. -. J7 * _] -* / -_


_I


- -- A .- -


1 _








The force
Drives rmy
TI.s rri teS


through the


r- 1- t >x
g2'een
I K
*If ^


-o )


that


blasts the roots of


fue drives the flwe
'1VC -. ,,< _


trees


The force


taat.


drive


Drives my red blood;


Turns mirn


UK)O


wax


s the water through the rocks
that dries the mouthing streams
. a .


The hand


StHauls
Haus ,_


that whirls th


iiishroud .


csad
r ',,-
Ct I Ii.


e water in the pool


that


ropes


the blowing wind


he formal ron of this pattern


-ima es


the movement


rising to


1i
. re


(n 1 j


falling to the full stop of


death wnich


t0 1


-ima e r


render


The fourth


s tcanza


DThnv ?I fl ct
^ j ' ** -'- .


contrast to


. irsc


three


te r s +


r, -yhm and the


pattern


i-Iove ent


well


by its


alterati on


in pausal


pattern.


Short


t 111; l


instead of


renderin


image of


destrutive -*
<> v2 &. Ve C,

pOwer


dos


first


three


stanzas,


violates the ep ectat-iuns


conditioned


by the


earlier


S0 iqZt1 j. -.


emphasizes0


Ce'' C
X~ ~ r^ V ".
' -t% 1 _,. ^ ^


c great


power of love.


repetition4
_WL rum"


of this structural


k'tt u Lern


empha sized


elaborated by verbal repetition


sense of


in the cyclical pattern of tne


S -;
' - *v -^j *^ t C2\


de structive


structural and


-i4 -
L J ..


pr o rc es --


existence


linguistic repetition


lines begin with


"The";
ifh


augrc- ent ed


Ly both


In all four


fourth lne s,


stanza s,


'as


wc'1 _


as it


first


.inc:


of the coda,


becrgn wi "
""0 -- L


"And


am dlub,


the final line


pac r


stanza.


-_ ? .,,.


.1 .1 r r. Z L*-,


C1r e n r-,"


, recunc- r


- -- - - ^ -r


_X __ I


. / f r


-- 1--


I-





61



the truths xinch the poet has perceived in his enco.unt-r


with life's objects and the underlying process which;


S-4 -
,~ ~ ~ L -i I ->-- ^^l


and destroys them.


"And I am dumb
^i ^----- ^-^-~--~ ^-' *- ^ *- m -..-""rriiii Hm**e^^HAA.^


I rei leecs ht:
^- ~~---- ^i--.---~^H" ^i-^ %


p*oet s


sense of his inability to render his native


and its repet i lion in each stanza


in the cod


2 nu<"cesLs


.


an almost ritual act of contrition and plea for redemptionct


in this


C-0 <' R


the poet wishes to "redeem" and


ac t:i vat e


own creative cowers.


followed by


"How"-an i introductory word u u y


question--f further cmp:ias izes the p oet'
qb.C e e"npmts":! zes ufl p ,


questioning of his capability "to tel l" the truth a


perception and to


create


a vi ng:


form i


whi h siI I:nb- d


his unitive vision..


Certain other iords ,h etl) are repeated in the


nr c cr


function


linking words,


verbal


ily rener nrn


11' 2 ,


between opposingJ


i- a e s.


"Crooked"


charac terizes


in stanza one and "worm" in the coda--embodying, the


1C iv*T
fCPC-1C'i^-_V O J


unity of the growing, blossoming process ari the detructive


devouring


"Green" renders


vitality andc


create 1-


power of


SLuth--"my


age"


--as


well


exjp osive


owc 2r


by which


L e f


-r n ,ee fus
;=- cer. Ii L _*-


grows


and produces its fleer,


thus emb :vin7 ng the oneness of self and flower in terms of


the forcefi:


D 20cess
a 1 .


of creation.


*Thte olos iv forcefulness of the


P (N Ttr s >
V.' \.j


of create on


both


- os 0 -i


green


"rose"







move the


itself an


wi th


::ma)


of the "force" which "drives" all life.


And tlhe perception 1o uni ty embodied in the images is also


reveal 'i d lingui Ct cal
C. ^ l -I *., '^ L x -, ,- L A *


"D 1ives" is repeated from stanza


one to stanza two; in both stanzas "drives" is the verb


which


e xre i css


the action of the creative power of the


"force" :


The force tflha through
Drives m y re en ag o .


force


green fuse drives the flower


that drive e s the water thr o ugh the rocks


Drives my l


Y 1
P62 k <--


blood


And in


statza


close J


relationship between the creative


power and its destruc tive counterpart


imaged, in the close


phonemic relationr-hio between "drives" and the verb which

renders the action of destruction--"dries."


The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams


Turns i ne to


wax.


Again in


stanza


two, repetition of "mouth"--used as both


noun an ii


verb


vok.ing the couolet


the "mouthing


streams" of t e


s- ,n \


in gui sticalv embodies the


sense


jnj.ty bt.wee boc and water hnich the
tar ] vi- tj ,L f -,.'-" e j }, j^ <*'' O 7l w^' r^-r- ^ n'; r"- ^'


poet


feels


unable to render


And am du o o
pT T I :


U


th unto


my veins


poe0


ine


1


strong, pulsating rhythm which is




63


images --in- the structure which is "inevitable" for the

rendering of tne perception of unity which represents this


bursting moment of


creative growth in the imagination's


development


creator


The richness and density of the


patterns of imagery within the poem are the products of the

amplification and elaboration of its central "host of images ."


The first stanza images the explosive power of both

creation and destruction in the image of "the green fuse"

which produces the flower, and the power of the "force"


which also "blasts the roots of trees."


A clear relation-


ship is established between this botanical creation-destruction


and the movement from youth


age---from "my


green


"wintry fever"'-of the poet.


The controlling image of the


first stanza is an


image,


then, of the


process


of growth,


in terms of explosive moments rather than of


steady,


logical, upward


progression


from one point


the next.


"When Once The Twilight Locks No Longer,"


a poem which


images the creator s


pr ocess


focuses


relationship p


to his created object,


there


similar


image


of birth and


growth:


My fuses timed to charge his heart,


He blew like p


And held.


to the 1


little sabbath wit


ight


sun. (4)


And the childbirtht"


poens--


"Bef ore


Knocked" (8),


" to








Inc)ncr) t


As the flower explodes from the


child


"green f use,"


forth from the wob; and. in


I u-,es


s Wmil :


way, the speaker's "green age" is pushed onward by forceful


leaps of growth


inividuation, culmint.j ng, fina .ly, in2


the "wintry fever" which


presa Qs


d death .


K,


This ,
If
1$ h,


i % l
-LJi ^, -.i /


T} a ib^ ucu


central conRcYer1 of the


prorn--the pooet s role


renderer of life's process by


1-
co tp :o: 0
couii'l CtK


this


of


C1,


i--- ic L


each
p ( r- r,
QJ. a 0 51


context


fo cus


wel J


open nS


image, in


of

the


ostaza
o G/o Yi zt6


cOncO ,udin_ e


ooem's coda.


o renders thc:


e: per i 'Ce C


en- 1


burstingg "fi lower" -roducin: oment of
C' I L V-e


illu. nation.


/ The


s c 'ec tg. _1


two stanza s particularize and


cncrP tIre t -


greenn a -"
f- '-t--\a1- Cv.e.-


sour ce


physical


vitality


ii ca


blood"


also


"wintry fever"


S,. r -
carr- .


age


.y (


concli. s ion in


dea-h--


"my shroud sail.


" And


central


"host


7 r~i ',^n rJ -


-revlea led


in the


image s


water


and blood in the second, third, and fourth stanzas.


"nost


ir~iages i
ITNa"<1 ^ '-- ^
(12<-C <"


wnich


revo v e s aro und


~t. y e4


ana blood


functions to render


unity of the


processes


of creation


do '
L ^ b -.t_ ^-l 0i


bet veen


b I I"


t hrou h


amnlif'ication


poet's life


So1 O c,


relat 'ons hip
-Li- Q tQL XJ.r i o -F-


, ater


life


stanza


t wo-


"Ia tt '
eN -

hblo "


t-, W-a:T


awak--


so r e .1?'/ -


, ea, h-'-






"The ..water in the pool"


in the third


inevitably


linked to


tImouthing streams,


" the


"waLer"


driven


"through the rocks,


" and


"the mountain spring" which


form the central


image cluster of the second stanza.


stream of the poet's blood is


associated,


Thus,


by the


relationship to water established in the


sec


ond stanza,


with


third


stanza's image of the


"shroud


sail";
S 'C. !
$l a


for this


image amplifies the second s>anzas


sucr-esz
C ) 1 C ) j- '


ion of


death in


image of blood turned to


The imagistic


wax


by the undertaker


linking and identifying of


,w.tor


blood in the


second


and third


stanzas-


further amplified


in stanza four to render the


identity of the creative


source


for both nature and poet.


The fourth stanza images


this creative power


water


"the


fountain


head"


w: hich


time leeches recalls the


final


ima


the seend


stanza---


"How at


the mountain


spring


same mouth


SUCKS.


" The


"fountain head" and


"mountain spring"'


are


source


bursting creative energy, and


are


thus parallel


source of the


poet


's life--"my red blood.


" And the


fourth


st an iza


elaborates


image


of blood


it is related to


image


"Love ,


which motivates creation


which,


like


the water,


rips


and gathers.


"fallen blood"


redeems Loves


creative


power from the


"li ps


time":


Love


U un p o


gathers,


fallen blood


Ct-~ -~ -~ -~ ~1 -


s ta .n a-




[, -
66


deabh' dcistructivo po- o --- -hj]ch ha-i' babeen imaged in t
J..,ifla &oct (i t_[ fln}


d t.- i j


between >,t: e 0ov action of nature '


Uro BO e :s
r \ ~f /'*> -i r ~ +-


*rc -i -


"thO lover' tonb"


and bnod - .re un t i I n the lmta ee


an- 1 of lhe poe)t' "1h.u"


many f ulnc t i on --wi ding sheet,


bed slc,-o, a nd


ID i P


Tie act of iL(enti fi cation and creafj cn--of whic the

a rcor-- renerd in te po' movernt fron
S 1itC O']...i3 ': o0-" a y-].en a eo in ius pa o'o.: move or>*,-%.{ Oi .


poemn


separate ion to unIticationl thi


rrio /ei2
.N*1J / C-:*,_ . i^


i - If e -.


in the


cnann rl onhip bewn the "
.-- , lnip t) uwoe the r I


Ot 4 i vi


,- 4--
0 sa., LI /ure L a


tne vword, as wol]


.in the


ima i st-


p4 rt culaia tion


creative--destruct xve


"force."


In the


the r:0elt onship be tween poet an wor ]


f i' -


Yr uPrc


stant2 2


a ] r e t


stated


of tUK unity
w


-* ,
/Lw-L T


betwe Lcen


eniplhasi


natLure


on tl]c:


Ls-


s process a.nd 'ry re i-


c. 3


ny" biood, and 'r:v"


shroud.


The poet's perce-tion


gradually] y widened a d elaborated, from his identificati :


w. t. h


S3e it 2. ED
-C *, s


C stanza I
stanMzg


element a-..te plants of stanza one and


. n. L z4 i t1Z,


} e'p, n
V ^-^


two --to


hs imagistic identification, in


with the elements of "the blowing wind"


"uic. -ksapd I


we]--


with "the


1a ter


pool.


t: ere


no personal reference in ]ine two of


th .s *"


stanza to


r);--l ~ -
i ct J lq1J ^ ,


r e r p !
^j teni -


age" and "my red blood"


-n 4- r '
0s ~.-. <- I ><. C' I:


Mt e


and two


T- s" points to
rpt ot 4-


t a niz


four', inY


t'e identification s


co"nplete the


di S~) Q -


.^ ;-


of th
C.h~


OIrL Lr S


Wh ,h


p" e C I; : V 6- J


ds~]a ^ppea)T -


CII_^


1, t Incwlic the poet


poem.







The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores . .


The movement from "force" to "hand"


"lips" also


images the poetic movement towards increasing perception

of identification with the creative power of the process in


which the poetic consciousness is engaged.


stanzas


one


and two, in which the imagination relates to single elements,,


the create ive-destructive powers of existence


are


imagedd in


terms of cosmic "force.".


Stanza three particularizes and


human zes this "force" into "hand.


And the


image r~"


of death


is also humanized; the "hanging man" to whom the

to commlunicLate--as he wished "to tell" the dying


poet

rose


wishes

anrd


his own


v eins -- has


been


killed, not by the natural


process


which destroys the rose, bub by the "hand" of other men.


Thus the


particular.iza tion


of "force into "hand"


r evedasls


the creative


Itpowes i.*


of mT r hs abilitics


to "imiate" natur


process.


the poet, in contrast, wishes


h-, tSicl, Ii


create


destroys


new life,


"to --ll


the living truths


imaginative perceptions.


-Pinaly the poetic


consciousness :


humanizes the cosmic


control of time in


stanza


images which render the


four :


pc n f-@ +t


"the lips of time."


goal,


?fte.r the moment


couple t e identification,


are


more


cO S1i0 ,


em!bodyin ,


time s


nr'r % I niT C

fl nrI


destructive


life


n ^\ i- i I7


-_J I







SCIS i; ,


- -.'1 rl '* -


W O< l i 1 i" i i i


orns


e :: ,> ,
k_ t -^. \-_l 4


the real i y of time'


'le coda poits to the poen constant' emphas- on


ti-ic poet'


r 1atIo


to the "force" of creation and


dest ruction an,


his fun action in t the context of thi s


:i l 5


eSxoer ience and


perceive


and then mut


" :it |" tEe r -cIl, of hids encounter


Th rougho't L the poo.m,


a t c


the focu is


pl ce ve-r di

encounT-er -s;.


in the last two lines of cacn stanza,


on the poetic consc ousness


i-;ne* croi the -literal world- wljo he


both within and ou Lde st-aDartlcipatin:"
--O.c S _.,,. ih <-,,,


an the


rc 'C,
ij- ( : I' 1C''_
A-


'th -;t rth t- ie


ti & C
*-


back from It


ouse; -~e s


- ^ l f
-J U w S- i b


nh OCc *


net, however


, si: mpl.


a decrJ otior of


nat ur"a.Q, "1 ] "o S


poetic


C ; S i U LS 5


active ly -


enr.c' u


4 ,l -


experT eCe--the


fourth stanza


S - r


r -r1s .


but complete absorption of T'he


poet


the process


S .te poet iS


alco)


actively


g ) d-


in the


quest for


voice in which he can render the reality of his


perceptions n


"te I the,


or gan c
C- sP,.r ] ^-* -'
C- .


PY c(- (t


Sorms--for:ns, that is, that can


the or ani c living and din


creatures


w _+


uim O


i C n, 1- *Jf. i --t ,


"crooked rose,"


to \


v I .-- it


a d f n-! i n 11 V


"-- I


anin man" t the weathers wind


Si- ",i' 1 r '; 1 t q fmr'r !


n9


-- -k ---- S


I f l ,it


I '


. '


s power


pr>ees^ ,







devel opment


a creator--imaged in the final


lines of


each stanza;


he must


learn


"how" to render the


liJving


truth of his perceptions and experience.


His-gl iss


thus to move beyond the identification which he achieves,


beyond assimilation of the fact of


creation,


to poetic


imitation of the creative process.


experien ce


which this poem presents,


of the


encounter and identification with life's


process,
P~r ^c
4-i- V, /


thus


awaken in p


one of the bursting moments of


which the


"green


fuse" images.


It is an


awakening


to an imaginative,


emotional, and intellectual apprehension


nature of life's


process;


1 it


also,


therefore,


awakening to


the possibilities of


create on


available


to the


poet.


The couplets,


with their almost ritualistic


repetition of "And


am dumb


tell


in:age


state the poet 's predicament--his inab:li ty


fulfi ll


creative


promise


wh ch


perceives.


Although his func Ion


tell,


" he


feels


incapable of


giving


verbal form-


"And


am dumb


---to


the vital reaii t:


process;


cannot adequately


1 .


his unitive


vision


in an


ext ernal


form which is


inevitable .


He can only embody


it in riid


closed.


external


structures -


Yet the


,poem ?


internal


structure


which


c reat.


n-ovement


pT oo ,- .


foreshadows


later


accomplismcni. i


of Thomas's Imagination;


for he


moves


more


I -.


es sentii ;l


I ~


./Hox "













CHAPTER Ill


CELEBRATION OF THE IMAGINATION'S CREATIVE POWER WITHIN
LIFE'S TEMPORALJ MOVEMENT: THE GROWTH OF VISION--


"I SEE THE BOYS OF SUMMER"


Swo poems which reveal


AND "FERN HILL"


comparison and contrast,


the move.ient


from closed to open forwns,


towards


expansion of vision,


are


The Boys Of Sumnmer"


(1),


"Fern Hill"


(178).


terms of


subjJ ct and


theme


they


Var


similar;


but in mood and


tone,


well


in structure,


texture


, and image,


t h e y


Jr0 p


quite different--and


cont ras t reveal s the growth o


pect's vision and of h is


abili ty


render t is


vision with


gre ater


clarity


unigLe open forms.


contrast


S.etween H


these


w 1
^ 'd \


poemis


also


rCvo al S


the growth in


the ooetry which Thomas described


in 199:


1 like


think


are among those e


later p


O Tm S


are e


that


.ne poems me


I wrote earliest
wider and deeper


narrowly odd
d that the


Force :


That Thr ou h T n


Green


Fuse Drives The


lowe" :Ees the u

creativ-destru_.ctive.


nity of


.process (


all life in

; "1 See Th


terms of


C oo s


nature's


Of Summer"


reve: ci s


p ar icul r t za on in"


perception of this


~-*c- '1


J


"The






through identification with the boys of summer.


As in


"The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The -Flower,"


the focus is on the perceive

relationship to the boys of


ing consciousness and his


summer and to the process of


human growth and decay which he imagi natively


sees


embodied


in their youth.


The poem consists of three parts;


each of the first


two parts consist of four six-line stanzas, and


third


part is one six-line stanza.


Each stanza


like those in


"The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The Floweru


full-stopped at the end of the last
A^t^ tt^^"""""""1^'^'^1***^'^^r-y^+III -+ -A/.T^rwA bllllll-*-TT-. -. ...-,,,,^


line .


The tripartite


division of the poem reveals th

perceiving, experiencing, and a

of the first part syntactically


ree distinct modes of

ssimilating. The four stanzas

reveal the separation


between the


perceiver


and the


perceived:


see


boys


summer in their ruin


see


the summer children in


their mothers


S; and


see


that


from


these


boys shall


men


of nothing


In part two.


however


, the


soeaker


has relinquished his


separateness


identified with


the boys;


the only


personal


oronoun


second


four


stanzas


are


dark


deniers


summer


boys


in this


four-winded


spinning


pn ,


spring


cross


our


foreheads


ri t


holly


The movement towaras


thi"


process


idenc i.f icat1ion


It


L


"we":






present, past and future.


The images of stanzas one and two


describe the wild boys' existence in the present, with an

eye to their "ruin"--which they partially create as they

"Lay the gold tithings barren,/Setting no store by harvest,


freeze the soils .


In the third stanza,


see


summer children in their mothers," as yet unborn but still


active and vital and destructive,


brawned womb's weathers


as they "Split up the

And the final vision, of


the boys' future--"


see


that from these boys shall men of


nothlng/Stature . ."


--leads the perceiving consciousness


into imaginative identification with the boys, with their


green age"' and he thus moves


the process which "drives" them.


he begins to move


a clearer perception of

At the end of part two,


of his identification with the boys,


as indicated by the recurrence, from part one, of the


detached, defi nite article to refer to them:


see


poles of promise in the boys.


Out of this imaginative identification and

assimilation, this movement into the experience of the


boys,


a larger apprehension of the process of growth


which was only


observed


in part one.


Part three represents


an attem t at imai native synthesis of the


expe IenlCce


both "I" and "we"; the poem's final stanza thus renders


both the


sep crat ie L s s


of part


one--


see


you boys"--and


comes







see


you boys of summer in your ruin.


Man in his maggot's barren.


And boys


are


full and foreign in the pouch.


I am the man your father was.
We are the sons of flint and pitch.


see


the poles are kissing as they cross.


The "you," which here images separateness, also

indicates an advance towards personalization over the

phrase "the boys" in part one, the poetic consciousness has


assimilated the experience to a limited extent.


He has


begun to perceive more clearly the process of human growth

through his identification with the boys, but he is unable

to truly personalize it, to place himself within the process

by imaginative understanding; thus the poem can only offer

a superficial synthesis by alternating between "I" and "we."

And each line of this concluding stanza, in contrast to the

preceding eight stanzas, is end-stopped, reveal Ing still

further the inability of the poetic consciousness to make


the synthesis complete.


This is despite the apparent


obliteration of both "I" and "we" in the final line--"0


see


the poles are kissing


they cross,"


--which comes


closest to achieving


a syntactical and rhythmical union


between the final lines of parts one and two--"0


see


pulse of summer in the ice," and "0


see


the ples of promise


in the boys,"


--as


we 11


an imagistic union with the


destructive "frozen loves" of stanza one.







in making


dangling
draggedc


g a momentary


correct

the p


mornm


oem


peace


with my


ent; images we
formal limits


into o


*re 1
and


liage s
eft


another


many


central


images of "1 See The Boys C
,,,i w m s -//w^~^/ ....*:::ii-:~~:ei o f "iI-ni^r--*^**'" ***-r -if1"^!ir^M^^rw fs^.. -- - ----- -- _


Sumnmeir"


are


reminiscent


those


example,


"The


Force


That


SThough


Green


Fus


e Drives


The


Flower


"The


fever '


"wintry


Force


That


Throu gh


Green


Fuse


Drives


Flowel"


successfully


effectively


compresses


numerous


wintry


freezing


images


Which


appear


Boys


Lum;: )%-


Three


fcur


stanzas


part


one


Boys


Summe r


fact,


repeat


amplify


this


"central


into


"host


images"


whi ch


re ndeps
fi~i cr


process


that


moves


"the


boys


summer"


toward d


their


"w inT ry


fever":


I s
Lay
Set
The
Of
And


the
ting
re in


go'
no
th


z7n


drown


- of


d tithin
store by
eir heat
moves the


summer r


h
t,


cargo


in
rre


harvest
he wint
fetch t
aooles


their


fr
er


heir
in


ruin


soils;


girls,
their tides.


These
Sour


acks


ros


are


honey;
t they


e sun


curdlers


finger
mid th


their


eads


folly.


hives;


doubt


dark


)moonf


they
zero


their
their


nerve
voids


see


pulse


sumrnmer


ice.


irnago


whlI ch


inuegrat


"seasons


suR1ime2


eeze


ee


building








are also


"green of the seaweeds'


iron,


" again recalling


f)'f cen


age" and pointing to the


"green and dying" boy


of "Fern Hill.


Altho b;~ o


is riot


bouy of "Fern Hill" is


1ruin


I '*
ccb ~


"boys of


"green and dying,"

summner.. instead


-A": rtW It


sings his childhood.


Ther


e is no


imagie


of the


with,


4 s t- ru tI -


- y. -
:. cJ Zn 4' 0


nature of


I I
V.-;j *i~


growth and aging to compare


images of the earlier poems; and


S. ^ -


&L t 0-2 'i I


imagee s


death w within the


seed


m<-

's barren"


disappeared.


poet s


ner a -
i~~ ~~~~ 7!t.-G ._.^'


vi siot of the


"boys


summerLf in their ruin"


S life's 'o


growth and aging--which(


leads


to the destruction


youth by


"wintry fever" and,


fi. nal] y,


to the


crookede~


w-O 'i ? in the


gravc


--has


been


the wider


ion of the croat ing


coscosns 1


of ern


Hi1"
H 't J, ~


Through


Sntmai inative use of memory,


the poet


of "Fern Hi

Of Summer"


11"


ca identify--- as the poet of "i See The Boys


could not wholly--with the child's perceptions


and his unitive but

can also assimilate


ignorant vision of his world; and he

his adult understanding of the process


of life,


in which time


s movement controls all living


creatures.


The poet 's imaginative power enables him


he both


1 A r4V!- f-n mit 1- 4 x -^ C, c' 4- fl V' in -0 St 1- r. TT


--have


t r ns


V^h ~ ~ - 'r' -^- i ; ^


/-^ t 1-i- ^








experience


of the


:1orld


we ll


the adult's percetion


of the imperntanonce of youth.


And in the


creating


the poorm,


poet


has conq uere timo a1nd death;


although the


"dying,


controlled and destroyed by


time s


process,


poem is out of time's control--.it


is a


permanent


uichancin -
L^t 1 17 i


former


which


creates


eternal


inma [,e


the child's


thus achieving


v ctory


over


. *
u l--1 y\ e


ER> C 8 r


;oet


able


acii eve


this


victory


over


da *
JC& t h .


tI


able


S E?


tnes S


prces


creative


QdustrL1ctiv&


therefore,


celtetb V. tr -
r1 ^ 1 ^ .T-- '" -1


4. U


hu
Unus, ^r


perceives


I
r- rS~ i ?"" v
*-. uc/ .x .


- ,1 t v '
^-' .- -A- T *-


U process,


t i me '


creates


S, 4- l t --


,cl_ -


o I i* -
T > t*" >_ ''" - ^
^- --_ -- ._ l_ L -L ^ V


ir'j:o' ic e:


n*d Vt-


D ca ,n '


D o t


t nt-


"singiu g"'


S ri n ee I


very


creator


of destroying


of --ro.th


"Fern HiIT"


of 'rern rill.


Th"i -


-'%w -v -


poet


lma.Jnr lU


creator


2. rj agea


contrast


}; A ]
LW V_- C- & T i


The


-o t


Of Summer" and


FHi1l.


" In


o sTr c


OfSu
unh*i,


growth


youth


a re


i > -d


. t. -
*s-- LS


dccstruct iV;
r- oc-f-r-61 2-ye V^


iperceiving


COn cios:,- S- .


di -0:r -


that


bi rtb and


growth


]ead only


dect


. U O C*.


"ItFrn Hill" is clear


en ire


n o DE rr:


"1 1-


" "iovely1


I" li tina
1 1 J L -1 ,


S-


"j 0o ful "L


so ii t ni i


t m


*:" n r


- l -]


n d c


value


"Fern




77



poem is one of the "few and such morning songs" celebrating


life s creative power.


For the imagination has reached the


point at which it can perceive value in the process of


growth and aging.


The poetic consciousness can celebrate


the loss of childhood because of the creative possibilities


inherent in


age;


time "allows" youth and also grants adult-


hood, thus making it possible for the adult poet's


imaginative recreation to


give


permanent life to the


innocent glory of the child's perceptions.


The poet


does


not, then, seek to return to childhood


a childhood state of mind, but rather to achieve an


imaginative perception of the child'


vision and


embody


it in a living work of art


As the child's fresh vision


transforms Fern Hill into a shining Eden,


transforms both the farm


"Fern Hill.


the poet


the boy's image of it into


The poet's realization of his creative power


then, now enables him to achieve what the poetic conscious-


ness of the earlier poems could not--a serene


and happy


poem created out of the inevitable loss of childhood.
4^_^--"- ^ ..<^ *


Throughout the poem, time


imaged


as a merciful,


gentle, though unyielding, power


The boy is "young and


easy," "green and


carefree,


" "heedless" of time's control;


sees


himself


the "lordly" "prince of the apple towns"


- -. S I








Time


let me hail


and climb


Time let me play and be


time


In all his tuneful


And Time holds the


allows


turning


child gently and mercifully, giving


him freedom within limits wli ch are


wide


the sea


Time


let me play and b


Golden in the mcr


of his means,


was


young and


eas


y in the mer


of his means,


Time held me


green


and d


Though I


sang


in my chains


like


sea.


And the boy's childhood on


farm


takes


place


"once below


time"--an obvious variant of the storyteller's


"Once upon


time,


phrase which renders the


timeless nature of the


story,


it occurs at an unspecified point


time.


'"Once


below


time" also


images


the poet's


sense


of the distance


which


the childish imagination perceives between himself


passing


of time.


The predominance of


simple past


tense


verbs


throughout


poem


temporal


distance between


the poet


and the child'


s experience and


vision:


Now


About


as ]j


w y


The night
Time
flnl rir0rY r,


young


lilting house
_-_It- 0


above


easy
e and


the dingl


let me hail


under the


app


hany


e st


le boughs


gra


wa s


green,


arry,


climb


fl i 1 4 \ i -, 4A


n- -


1 r i t-i


*:


ndica-es








Although most verbs


are


in the simple past


tense--a clear


indication of


a completed past action--there


are


numerous verbs


in the past continuous

process and movement

nature of the action;


tense, a verbal form which indicates


emphasis zing the continuing,


in stanza three alone


ongoing


there are five


instances of this verbal mode:


the sun long it wa


Fields high


the house


s running,


it was


the tunes


lovely,


from the


the hay


chimine


was air


And playing


ove


ly and watery


And fire green


And niEghtly


under


as grass
simple


star


sleep


As I rode to


the moon 1


Flying with


the owls wer


I heard


e bearing the


blessed


among


ricks, and the hor


farm awa


stables,


the night-jars


ses


Flashing into the dark


And in each


case,


the past continuous tense'


functions


image of the continue y and eternality of


experience which the


child feels in the certain movement


from day to night;


every


day "was running,


" "And playing," and always


night


"the


owls were bearing the


farm away. "


The certain nature of these


recurring


acts


absolute


to the child


the rising and


setting of


sun and moon.


use everything


anything to make my


poems


work and


move


in the direction I


want them to,


" Thomas wrote in 1951.


"Every device there


in language


is there


to be used if you


wi 11


"Fexrn Hill,


" Thomas's mastery of the devices of


-I








Each of "Fern Hill's"


stanzas consists of two


long,


flowing,


sparsely punctuated lines,


followed by three shorter


lines--with the even shorter middle one usually devoted to


images of time's role in the child's life.


The following


two- lines are parallel in length to the


final two lines are again

length within each stanza


shorter.


creates--as


first


'he variance

it does in


two and the


in line

"The


Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The Flower"


pulsating rhythmic movement.


--a


But the rhythm is gentler,


quieter than in the earlier poem,


partially


because


lines are generally


longer and with fewer pauses and stops.


These


longer "running" lines image


the child s perception


of his life


"running" and


"playing,"


especially in the


first two stanzas,


while the shorter


lines in


the middle of


these stanzas slow the movement


to reveal


time 's inexorable


but gentle power


over


"young and


easy


" "green and


carefree,


" "running" and


"playing" boy:


I was green and


About the happy


carefree,


yard and singing
in0ng


In the sun that is
Time let me p
Golden in the mercy


And green ana


Iden I


to my horn, t
And the
In the oebb


famous among t
as the farm we


he barns
s home,


young once only,


of his


was


oxes


means,


huntsma n


ierdsman,


on the hills barked


sabbath rang


s of


the hol


the cal


clear


ves


and cold,


slowly
v streams.


The omnipresence of time in


"Fern Hill"


rendered in


^U







subtle movement of syntax, pausal patterns, and verbal forms.

"Fern Hill's" "texture," the internal structure and pattern

of these three parts, joins with its external structure to

reveal the poem's truth and value.


Stanzas one and two form a structural unit,


clearly assert time


for they


s gentle control in direct statements


which are syntactically identical:


Time


let me hail and climb


Golden in the heydays of his

Time let me play and be


Golden in the mercy of hi


eyes,


means,


The unity of vision embodied in the


"host of images" of the


boy's


"green," "golden,


" "happy"


sense


of his


"easy" and


"carefree" monarchy over his world is rendered in the

sentence structure of these opening stanzas:


And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns


And once below a time I lordly had the


And green and golden,
Sang to my horn, the


And the almost


trees and


leaves


I was huntsman and herdsman.


foxes


identical syntax of


calves


on the hills barked clear and cold


corresponding lines of


the first two stanzas structurally emphasizes

relationship between such images:


Now


I was young and


easy


About the lilting house and


under the app
happy as the


boughs


ass


was green,




82


In addition, verbal repetition links these two


stanzas into a unit.


The first words of the first


lines


of stanzas one and two, for example, are repeated exactly or


with slight


vari. ation--


I was" and "And


I was,"


"About" and "About," "The" and "In the "Time" and "Time ,


"Golden" and "Golden," and "And" and "And."


And this


verbal repetition, coupled with syntactical identity,


exemplifies the functional significance


such linguistic


devices.


For both the first and second stanzas


are


identical in imaging the child's vision of his kingdom


well


the adult' s perception of time's monarchy; this


unity of purpose and image, then, is furthered by the

structural unity established by these linguistic devices.


in the earlier poems, though with much


clarity and


eCiso


greater


in "Fern Hill," the repetition of


syntactical and verbal modes renders the sense of continuous,


repetitive


process


which is also rendered--in the succeeding


stanzas--by the


pas t


continuous


tense.


The third and fourth


stanzas


function


unit which


images time's


IorkKi ngs


less


explicitly and with a greater


empha sis


process


and movere'HL., rather than on the static


control


which


.ima ( C d


in the first two stanzas.


In the


second structural unit, time's control


never directly


^~Z nf l i


i- 1 r l c c' r nTY ri


-r


nf'+ m


Also ,


:. i m n-


"Now








the sun long it was running,


Fields high


the house,
was air


was


love ly


the hay


the tunes from the chimneys, it


And playing,


lovely and watery


And fire green


grass.


And nightly under the simple star


As I rode


to sleep the owls were bearing the


farm away,


the moon long I heard,


blessed among


stables,


the night-jars


Flying with the ricks, and the hor


ses


Flashing into the dark.


Distinctive pausal patterns render this distinction between


night and day in time's process.


by a full stop,


The stanza is clearly divided


concluding the depiction of the experience of


"All


the sun long," and preceding the


dreams which occupy the child


stop


"all


thus renders the separation of


images of


the moon long."


day and night,


sleep and


full


which


emphasizes the movement of the child from "sun" to


"mo on.


Thus,


image and pausal pattern combine


embody the re etitive


and cyclical


process by which time gently moves the child from


day to night,


from youth to


age.


And again,


the past


continuous tense images the continuity of the process.


Stanza


three


itself,


then,


an image of time's p


ower


and movement,


whereas the images of


stanzas one and two directly


assert


time s


control.


The fourth stanza is also


full


stopped in the middle,


thus relating it rhythmically and syntactically to the pre-


ceding stanza and differentiating it


from stanzas


one


and two.


For the separation of0


and night in stanza


three indicates


LJ







four.


And this moment of awakening


is rendered verbally


in the infinitive--"And then to awake"


-a


verbal form with


no tense or time element;


the uniqueness of this form in


this context thus indicates the momentary absence of time,


as the child' s


fresh


vision daily recreates the farm--


brings it and himself back from night,


owls,


whose birds,


" "nightly," "were bearing the farm away"


"the


in the


second half of stanza three.


In the child's Edenic vision,


the farm is made anew each


morning and time also is reborn--"And the sun grew round


that very day."


The timelessness imaged by the infinitive


is brief,


then,


for creation of the


farm,


oky,


and the


sun, is also creation of time,


process, and growth.


After


the moment of awakening the poem shifts again to the past

tense: and the imagistic description of the farm's
-- jC


recreation is continued to


the full stop.


The final half


the fourth stanza renders the poet's


imaginative vision of


the identity between the child's


creative


act and the


first


creation:


"So it must


have been after the birth of the simple


light.


" The


horses


then must


have


walked


the fields


of praise,


" and the oetic


function


similar to


that


which the child performs,


imaged


in these lines.


poet must


recreate--make


new--the


objects


"literal


world";


he must render words


fresh


"virgin and he must


1_


v


.







"joy and function


. . is


. . the celebration of man,


which is also the celebration of God,


" and its purpose is


"praise.


Stanzas three and four,


then, reveal a more personal,


particular sense of time's effects on the child;


for they


particularize the life imaged in stanzas one and two into

the movement from day to night to the moment of reawakening


and creation.


Stanzas three and four thus render a concrete


"example," a twenty-four hour cycle,


of the process which


is repeated daily and nightly.


These first four stanzas are linked by the image of


the child's continuing perception of his


his world; in stanzas three and four,


"lordly" power over


when he sleeps,


farm disappears, and his awakening brings it to


life again.


This parallels the child's sense of his monarchy over "the


apple towns" in stanza one and over the


"calves" and


"foxes"


of stanza two.


poet'


This sense of


reminiscence and recrea


creative power is what the

tion of childhood must teach


him; he must teexperience and renew the creative ability


which the child's vision


gives


him.


Stanzas


five


linked


the poem's third


and final structural unit; and they present a contrast to


this sense of


power


. for they render the ultimate realization






with images reminiscent of


stanzas one and


two,


the chi d's


"honoured" position in his own domain,


which is


"nev made,


as stanza four reveals,


each morning:


And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,


the middle of"


stanza five,


with the wA;ords


Ihihi.
^j1 fw-'nvr I
d _- ^ '.J LA. ^


cared,


" prepares for


the identical


open:a ng of


sta za


Six,


completion of the poem,


which ima ges t ce


childhood.


again,


pausal patterns render the connection between the


stanzas and thus between the process images


in both.


stanza


five


is the only one which ends with a


very brief pause,


a comma,


thus moving the reader--almost


. wt.1hout, stopping--into


the final moments


the poem,


the depiction of


time's gentle


destruction of


c cii dhood,


for which all of the previous images


have prepared.


"Timie


let me


hail and


climb,


" in the first


stanza, f

the child


'or example,


parallels the final


to the swallow thronged


of tjme


loft" in


leading


last


stanza.


And once


acgaDn,


in stanza four,


the verbal mode


altered;


the simple past tense wt th


the nodal auxiliary


"would"


in stanza


emphasizes the


temporal gap between the


poetic act of


cre ati on in the present and


the poet's perception


of the child s


iif in


pst
CL f r -


0N o hin I-


cared.


This








and the poet's vision.


To the child,


unconscious of time,


end of


childhood is in the future,


of which he is


"heedless";


to the adult consciousness,


this act is in the past.


And the


simple past with the auxiliary "would" renders both;


of temporal distance,


in terms


the moment meant by "would take me"


lies between the past moment referred to by


the present act of


"Nothing I cared"


creating the poem,


The poetic


imagination has


Thus fused three moments of


time,


creating,


in effect, a


timeless moment similar to that


in which the child's vision recreates the farm in the


first


line of


stanza four


Although time controls and destroys


child and his vision of the


farm,


the poem controls


temporality through language and creates a permanent,


timeless


verbal structure which celebrates the creative possibilities


inherent in the process of


growth and the destruction of


childhood;


for time


the destroyer


imaged


a gentle but


firm guide,


who leads


the child


And as the child's


vision


"dies,


the farm--the


image of Fern Hill


created


by his vision--disappears,


in a reversal


of the creation


imaged in stanza four:


Nothing T


cared,


in the
take me


lamb white d


that time would


Up to the swallow thronged loft


by the shadow of my hand,


In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields


- - - .


"up







poe t


s act


creation


affirmative


joyous--an


singing


"praise"


life


imaged


"Fern


Hill


final


lines


Oh as


was


young
Time


Though


na easy
held me


sang


in my


green
chain


mercy o0
nd dying
like th


means,


sea.












CHAPTER IV


CELEBRATION OF NATURAL AND POETIC CREATION


OF LIFE:


THE BIRTHDAY POEMS


From celebration of the unity of all creation in nature's

creative-destructive process, in "The Force That Through The

Green Fuse Drives The Flower," to celebration of the poet's


creative power in the context of time's movement, in


Hill,


"Fern


" the imagination moves to celebration of the


particular moments of birth and death,


which represent


concrete, milestone events in the process which poems such

as "The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The Flower"

image.


For the poet who celebrates and praises


life,


birth-


day is thus an event which calls for celebration of the


entire process of


existence, and for praise of the creation


of life,


of which each birthday is,


traditionally,


remembrance.


The birthday thus celebrates childbirth--in


Thomas's poems an image of


creative


force--as


succeeding "births"


of consciousness and


creative


power.


Birthdays are celebrated


as milestone moments in the


individual


life's ongoing


process;


and a birthday


we!I





90

to death, and the poetic creation of new life in death's


despite.


A birthday is an opportunity to celebrate the


poet's bursting moments of' awakening to the creative

possibilities within the process of life, and in the context


of time and death.


The child's creation of an Edenic Fern


Hil].l is one of these moments, and the poet's recreation of

Fern Hill and the dying yet creating boy in "Fern Hill" is


yet another


The poet, then, celebrates his birthday


image of the act of creation in which he takes part


creator of life in the form of poems.


Thomas s birtnday


colnes


in October, the season which


marks the beginning of the year's autumnal decline into the


barrenness of winter, an image of death.


imagination -i "


Thomas's creative


conscious of October's position in the


concluding


cycle


of the


year s


life that he originally


"made October trees bare" in "Poem In October" (113); he

wrote to Vernon Watkins, in the letter in which he first


enclosed the poem,


"In the poem, I notice, on copying out,


that I have made October trees bare.


I'll alter later."]


Although October


are


still "leaved October


month which


marks


the transition between the greenness of


spring-sumrmer and the bareness of winter


But the death


of the


year


a i 7 0


marks the anniversary of the actual birth


of the oect


* '-.


thus a lso


images


the many "birthV' and


trees




91


celebration of his birthday, the poet renews, recreates
and expands his poetic power and imaginative vision; and

time and the inevitable cycle of the seasons are tele-


scoped and unified in a single moment


the imagination


perceives October as the season of both birth and death.

The seasonal imagery also emphasizes time's movement of

life toward death with the eternal promise of rebirth in

nature's cyclical, ongoing process.


Birth also brings death to mind, for death is

inevitable and is therefore implicit in the moment of birth;

partly through the image of the October paradox, death is

prominent in the birthday poems, though it is differently


perceived and imaged in the four poems,


the poetic con-


sciousness grows in awareness and creative power


of the four birthday poems reveals the poet


A study


growth


a creator, this growth in vision is embodied in the varying

structural, syntactical, and imagistic modes of rendering


which these poems exemplify.


For these poems, written over


a period of twenty years, reveal the same movement towards

greater clarity in the embodiment of the poet's expanded


vision as is revealed in the movement from "I


Of Summer" to "Fern Hill."


The Boys


"Fern Hill" and the later


birthday poems ultimately reveal that time and death are

conquered by the timeless permanence of the poem.




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