Analysis of poems
- A Child's Christmas In Wales
- A Grief Ago
- A Letter To My Aunt
- A Process In The Weather Of The Heart
- A Refusal To Mourn The Death, By Fire, Of A Child In London
- A Saint About To Fall
- A Winter's Tale
- After The Funeral (In Memory Of Ann Jones)
- All All And All The Dry Worlds Lever
- All That I Owe The Fellows Of The Grave
''It's thatthe thought of the few, simple things we want and the knowledge that we're going to get them in spite of you know Who and His spites and tempersthat keeps us living I think.''All quotations
Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer who wrote exclusively in English. In addition to poetry, he wrote short stories and scripts for film and radio, which he often performed himself. His public readings, particularly in America, won him great acclaim; his sonorous voice with a subtle Welsh lilt became almost as famous as his works. His best-known works include the "play for voices" Under Milk Wood and the celebrated villanelle for his dying father, "Do not go gentle into that good night". Appreciative critics have also noted the craftsmanship and compression of poems such as "In my Craft or Sullen Art", and the rhapsodic lyricism in "And death shall have no dominion" and "Fern Hill".
Dylan Thomas was born in the Uplands area of Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales, on 27 October 1914 just a few months after the Thomas family had bought the house. Uplands was, and still is, one of the more affluent areas of the city.
His father, David John ('DJ') Thomas (1876–1952), had attained a first-class honours degree in English at University College, Aberystwyth, and was dissatisfied with his position at the local grammar school as an English master who taught English literature. His mother, Florence Hannah Thomas (née Williams) (1882–1958), was a seamstress born in Swansea. Nancy, Thomas's sister, (Nancy Marles 1906–1953) was nine years older than he. Their father brought up both children to speak only English, even though he and his wife were both bilingual in English and Welsh. 'DJ' was even known to give Welsh lessons at home.
Dylan is pronounced 'd?lan in Welsh, and in the early part of his career some announcers introduced him using this pronunciation. However, Thomas himself favoured the anglicised pronunciation /'d?l?n/. A review of a biography by Andrew Lycett (2004) notes: "Florence, the boy’s mother, had her doubts about the odd name: the correct Welsh pronunciation, which the family used, is “Dullan,” and she worried that other children would tease him by calling him “dull one.” Later, when broadcasting on the Welsh service of the BBC, Dylan Thomas had to instruct the announcers to say "'Dillan,' the way he himself pronounced it". His middle name, Marlais, was given to him in honour of his great-uncle, Unitarian minister William Thomas, whose bardic name was Gwilym Marles.
His childhood was spent largely in Swansea, with regular summer trips to visit his maternal aunts' Carmarthenshire farms. These rural sojourns and the contrast with the town life of Swansea provided inspiration for much of his work, notably many short stories, radio essays, and the poem Fern Hill. Thomas was known to be a sickly child who suffered from bronchitis and asthma. He shied away from school and preferred reading on his own. He was considered too frail to fight in World War II, instead serving the war effort by writing scripts for the government. Thomas's formal education began at Mrs. Hole's Dame school, a private school which was situated a few streets away on Mirador Crescent. He described his experience there in Quite Early One Morning:
Never was there such a dame school as ours, so firm and kind and smelling of galoshes, with the sweet and fumbled music of the piano lessons drifting down from upstairs to the lonely schoolroom, where only the sometimes tearful wicked sat over undone sums, or to repent a little crime — the pulling of a girl's hair during geography, the sly shin kick under the table during English literature.
In October 1925, Thomas attended the single-sex Swansea Grammar School, in the Mount Pleasant district of the city, where his father taught. He was an undistinguished student. Thomas's first poem was published in the school's magazine. He later became its editor. He began keeping poetry notebooks and amassed 200 poems in four such journals between 1930 and 1934. He left school at 16 to become a reporter for the local newspaper, the South Wales Daily Post, only to leave the job under pressure 18 months later in 1932. After leaving the job he filled his notebooks even faster. Of the 90 poems he published, half were written during these first years. He then joined an amateur dramatic group in Mumbles called Little Theatre (Now Known as Swansea Little Theatre), but still continued to work as a freelance journalist for a few more years.
Thomas spent his time visiting the cinema in the Uplands, walking along Swansea Bay, visiting a theatre where he used to perform, and frequenting Swansea's pubs. He especially patronised those in the Mumbles area such the Antelope Hotel and the Mermaid Hotel. A short walk from the local newspaper where he worked was the Kardomah Café in Castle Street, central Swansea. At the café he met with various artist contemporaries, such as his good friend the poet Vernon Watkins. These writers, musicians and artists became known as 'The Kardomah Gang'. In 1932, Thomas embarked on what would be one of his various visits to London.
In February 1941, Swansea was bombed by the German Luftwaffe in a "three nights' blitz". Castle Street was just one of the many streets in Swansea that suffered badly; the rows of shops, including the 'Kardomah Café', were destroyed. Thomas later wrote about this in his radio play Return Journey Home, in which he describes the café as being "razed to the snow". Return Journey Home was first broadcast on 15 June 1947, having been written soon after the bombing raids. Thomas walked through the bombed-out shell of the town centre with his friend Bert Trick. Upset at the sight, he concluded: "Our Swansea is dead". The Kardomah Café later reopened on Portland Street, not far from the original location
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