Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Dylans

posted by Brit

Dylan Thomas pops up again, (as he is wont to do with surprising frequency). Thomas is meant to be a Marmite poet. Except that like so many things you're supposed to either love or hate, I can't make up my mind.

Nige skewers his style with a brilliant (and Thomas-esque) description of: windy bardic utterance, relentlessly sexed up with thick impasti of alliteration and assonance, stretched wildly out of shape by its eye-rolling, exalted urgency.

Undeniable really. But there is a real linguistic genius there, too - of the type shared by the other Dylan during his golden period. There's no perfected framing or craftsmanship - instead, the Dylans mostly sound like idiot savants channelling raw, purple material straight from some crazed Muse, with no ability to edit or control. The consequence is that they walk a terribly narrow line between brilliance and drivel. This provides both the appeal and the derision.

That said, here's a Dylan Thomas poem that falls the right side of the line. Supporting the genius theory, he published it when he was 22.


  1. The stage version of Under Milk Wood needed a herculean effort to stay awake, about 25 minutes in mine totally failed. From memory I think it was Hugh Griffith that did it, or the Welsh accent.

    Yup, it was the accent.

    The other Dylan was sublime, should hang up his guitar now.

  2. Dylan Jones, editor of GQ is the greatest genius of them all. Who can forget the noble heights of his magnum opus 'ipod therefore I am?'

  3. You might say that the best thing about Dylan Thomas was Richard Burton.

  4. Ah, Mr Taylor, two bottles of vodka a day doth chase the blues away.
    Liz set the poor bloke on the road to Stolly.

  5. Burton could have read the back of a Cornflakes box and it would have sounded great.

    You're doing a good job, Brit. I'm enjoying the posts.

  6. Thanks Neil. Burton also made Jeff Wayne's crazy War of the Worlds musical thing worthwhile.

  7. Have you ever heard a recording of Dylan Thomas declaiming poetry (either his own or someone else's)? Totally over the top - try the CD 'Classic Poems' if you think you can bear it.