9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The greatness of Dylan Thomas is in his music and voice, a powerful rolling seasound. It is too in that whole mysteriously rich vocabulary, that unique diction of his own a diction which like that of Hopkins , and Dickinson seems to strike us as wholly original.
The greatness of Thomas is too in his human feeling. "Do not go gentle into that dark night, Rage Rage Against the Dying of the Light".
He stuns us startles and surprises us with lines of incredible beauty.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2008
This reader has had the first 52 lines of Dylan Thomas's "Author's Prologue" memorized since the age of sixteen, and has a semi-firm grasp of the remaining 50 lines of the poem. In the absence of unforgettably solemn liturgies or a culture immersed in scriptural cadences, Thomas's poems fulfilled for this reader the same function than the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible fulfilled for many previous generations of English-speaking poets: making us fall in love with the sound of the word. Thomas is not always clear and comely, rarely dulcet and decorous, raucous oftener than reverent (he sometimes manages to be both!), but he is never hackneyed and almost impossible to forget.
Some of the effects in "Poem On His Birthday" and "Over Sir John's Hill" are as lovely and intricate as anything by Gerard Manley Hopkins, e g: "this sandgrain day in the bent bay's grave" or "flash, and the plumes crack, and a black cap of jackdaws Sir John's just hill dons." In the earliest eighteen poems, we have a kind of 20th-century retelling or paraphrase of the Book of Genesis (there is a poem called "In the Beginning"), with William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience and perhaps Auden, Lawrence, and Freud as tributary influences.
The later lyrics of nostalgia, "Fern Hill" and "Poem in October," exert an undeniable charm, and the wartime elegies ("A Refusal to Mourn the Death by Fire of a Child in London" most notably) have a furious splendour. The villanelle, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," is immortal.
The flaws in Dylan Thomas's aesthetic are somewhat obvious -- making the sound of the language into a kind of religion is not the most prudent course. And the failures, when they occur ("Once Below a Time") are crashingly abysmal. But we retain our familial loyalty to Dylan Thomas, who sang to the best of his love as the flood began, the moonshine-drinking Noah of the bay who sings still in these ineffaceable poems, around the globe from Laugharne to Lesotho, from Swansea to Sandusky -- wherever his books are found, opened, and cherished.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Selected Poems of Dylan Thomas 1934-1952" is the poet's own 'best of' collection. He picked all of the poems except for the posthumously chosen and edited "Elegy."
Every poet writes hundreds, even thousands, of poems. Some are experiments with form or message, others might be intended only for a small audience. Sometimes, the poet pens some that, when looking back, just stink. A good, humble poet knows this when collecting the ones worth remembering. Thomas' "Selected Poems" has strained out his weaker verse, avoiding the temptation of ego to overwhelm us with every line in the almost twenty-year period from which he draws.
Thomas hand-picked these gems. Any beginning student of poetry will know "Do not go gentle into that good night." They might also know "And death shall have no dominion."
Thomas was what few poets were. He was a poet's poet, yet entirely accessible by the average reader. He managed to construct poems that appeal aesthetically to nonpoets, with layers to be appreciated with each new look. He could be studied for his technique and craft, and enjoyed at face value in a public reading.
Unlike many poets, Thomas does not rely on obscure literary allusions requiring extensive footnotes, as T. S. Eliot sometimes seemed. Instead of giving us a lesson in vocabulary, he used ordinary words and phrases enriched by their juxtaposition and careful choice to exalt his messages. Even his somewhat glum "The tombstone told when she died," I find myself reading aloud:
She cried her white-dresses limbs were bare
And her red lips were kissed black,
She wept in her pain and made mouth,
Talked and tore though her eyes smiled.
Nicely presented, you'll find poems start on a new page rather than stream them one after another. This leaves white space, and provides for a cleaner look at the individual poem. I prefer this method because the poem seems to begin better, as it is set apart from the others.
I fully recommend "Selected Poems of Dylan Thomas 1934-1952" by Dylan Thomas. It is a fantastic study of modern English language poetry and what a poet can do with ordinary words.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2005
Dylan Thomas creates poems that are great to speak and use words that are truly magically placed. In my opinion, his books are the best for this type of poetry, so the person who purchases this book will likely find themselves reading these, even if only to themselves, out loud. My copy of this book was published in the 1950s, however I hope to buy this paperback version to carry with me.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2006
Dylan Thomas takes free verse into the next level (and regular verse into the next universe "Do not go Gentle into that Good Night")
Dylan Thomas is one of the last of the great poets after W. B. Yeats.
Dylan Thomas reigns forever.