Friday, December 03, 2010

the jesus poems of dylan thomas

this paper is posted in dedication to EMP

A Prodigal Poet’s Christ

Dylan Thomas and the Jesus Poems

a paper presented at the CCL Western Regional Conference
Trinity Western University
May 10-12, 2007

Murray Andrew Pura, PhD (candidate)
University of Liverpool, UK

I. The Dylan Paradox

Dylan Thomas grew up in Wales, a land saturated in Christian spirituality and history, and the images of that faith filled his childhood and poetry. In Fern Hill he muses:

The foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams . . .

. . . it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

In Poem in October, Thomas begins, “It was my thirtieth year to heaven,” and adds phrases about “the heron priested shore,” “water praying,” and the line, “I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother through the parables of sun light and the legends of the green chapels.” In other poems he speaks of the “Christ-cross-row of death,” “my Jack of Christ born thorny on the tree,” “long breath that carried to my father the message of his dying christ.” The truth is, as we shall see, Christ is a persistent figure in a number of Thomas’s poems. But not because Thomas was a Hopkins or a Donne or an Eliot whose Christian faith found expression in verse. He once wrote the American John Malcolm Brinnin that his poems were “poems in praise of God’s world by a man who doesn’t believe in God.”(1) A year before his death the avowed atheist wrote in the preface to his Collected Poems, “These 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.” (2) Thomas was not a believer. And then, somehow, he was.

Thomas biographer Andrew Sinclair comments,

All his life, religion had bothered him and the world had dumbfounded
him. He could not escape God because of the beauty of His works.
As Dylan wrote of the poems in 1951, they were ‘poems in praise of
God’s world by a man who doesn’t believe in God.’ There again, that
statement was not quite true. Dylan was unwilling to believe in God,
but his very thoughts and words and rhythms were suffused with
biblical themes and heavenly references, for a natural god or God in
nature. (3)

In Over Sir John’s Hill, Thomas writes,

It is the heron and I, under judging Sir John’s elmed
Hill, tell-tale the knelled
Of the led-astray birds whom God, for their breast of
Have mercy on,
God in his whirlwind silence save, who marks the sparrows
For their souls’ song.

And Sinclair ruminates,

These were not lines written by an unbeliever, but by a man
slowly won over to what Dylan called . . . ‘the godhead,
the author, the milky-way farmer, the first cause, architect,
lamp-lighter, quintessence, the beginning Word, the
anthropomorphic bowler-out and blackballer, the stuff of all
men, scapegoat, martyr, maker, woe-bearer - He, on top
of the hill in heaven, weeps whenever, outside that state of
being called his country, one of his worlds drops dead,
vanishes screaming, shrivels, explodes, murders itself. And,
when he weeps, Light and His tears glide down together, hand
in hand.’ (4)

Where did the bipolar spirituality come from in Thomas, what made him a hybrid of believer and unbeliever, embracing the things of God and Christ in many of his poems and words, and then breaking the embrace, scorning anything resembling a Christian lifestyle in his native Wales, tipping back the bottle to killing excess, plunging himself into multiple sexual affairs, thumping his chest repeatedly about his atheism, in some of his poems arguing passionately against Christian doctrine?

Thomas was born into a Wales that a decade before had experienced the great
Welsh Revival of 1904. Hymns were sung before football matches - as they still are today - and ministers and churches and a lively evangelical Christian faith were honoured throughout the land. His mother was a faithful church-goer and his mother’s sister, Aunt Dosie, married a minster, Reverend David Rees, well known for his ability to work a congregation into a holy fervour. As a young boy his mother took him to the Walter Road Congregational Church in Swansea.

On the one hand, Thomas gained a great deal that was positive from his early
exposure to an evangelical revivalist style of Christianity.

Let me say that the things that first made me love language
and want to work in it and for it were nursery rhymes and folk
tales, the Scottish Ballads, a few lines of hymns, the most
famous Bible stories and the rhythms of the Bible, Blake’s
Songs of Innocence, and the quite incomprehensible
magical majesty and nonsense of Shakespeare . . . (5)

The Bible . . . its great stories of Noah, Jonah, Lot, Moses,
Jacob, David, Solomon and a thousand more, I had, of
course, known from very early youth; the great rhythms had
rolled over me from the Welsh pulpits; and I read for myself,
from Job and Ecclesiastes; and the story of the New Testament
is part of my life. But I have never sat down and studied the Bible,
never consciously echoed its language, and am, in reality, as
ignorant of it as most brought-up Christians. All of the Bible
I use in my work is remembered from childhood, and is the
common property of all who were brought up in English-
speaking communities. (6)

The spoken word as an art form and as a spiritual act was highly regarded in Wales and even though Thomas wrote in English the Welshness wound and ploughed its way
through his verse and prose. He was influenced by the hwyl or chanting sermon, a musical and lofty and forceful style of preaching, as well as by the hiraeth, the spiritual vitality that rose out of the congregational singing of Welsh hymns. The impact of this Welsh Christian spirituality stayed with him and his art a lifetime. So did the significance of his middle name, Marlais, given him in honour of his paternal great uncle, Gwilym Marles, who had been a famous preacher - and a poet.

On the other hand, there were the angry preachers on the Swansea beaches railing against sin, there was his uncle, the Reverend David Rees, whom he referred to as “The Reverend Crap, a pious fraud”. (7) Dylan: “I hate you from your dandruff to your corns.” (8) For his part, the Reverend Rees thought Thomas should be placed in a
madhouse. None of this boded well for a Thomas who might embrace his mother’s faith
with a whole heart. Nor did his father encourage him, a schoolmaster who was an avowed atheist, who nevertheless cursed God roundly for the difficulties of his life and quoted the Bible out loud at home. In time, Thomas rebelled against “Welsh puritanism”, as Sinclair points out, “with its insistence on righteousness and a severe God, who could not be questioned.” (9) This rebellion also took the form of heavy drinking. And sex. His infidelities were prodigious and eventually drove his wife Caitlin to engage in infidelities of her own. Thomas became the quintessential “bad boy” of English letters, so much so that despite his fame as a poet he was denied a plaque in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. When Jimmy Carter, as American President, visited Westminster Abbey and asked why there was no memorial for Dylan Thomas, a poet who had inspired him personally, the Dean of Westminster stated it was because of Thomas’s immoral life. Carter responded, “You put him in here. And I will pray for him.” (10)

So the plaque was placed in 1982. The truth is, Thomas’s profligate lifestyle was not simply adopted to offer a cliched revolt against Christian doctrine and morality. He got drunk because he could not hold his liquor, because he hoped it would drown his insomnia, because it was what the others did, because, as Thomas himself said, “They expect it of me.” (11) Sinclair states, “The trouble was the old romantic and decadent notion that every orgy of excess was permitted to the Artist.” (12) Charlie Chaplin, however, was not impressed with Dylan’s frequent displays of vulgarity and once confronted him with the words, “Even great poetry cannot excuse such rude, drunken behaviour.” (13)

Along with the drinking and the promiscuity came poverty, for what money that came his way ran through his fingers like the sands of Swansea beach. He was forever asking his friends for financial help. Even on his deathbed in New York a blistering letter arrived from his wife Caitlin in Wales demanding money to avoid legal action, saying she would have to take up prostitution to feed the children, that he had “a lump of iron slop, instead of a man’s heart in your flabby breast.” (14)

Dylan’s death in 1953 came about as a result of over drinking, pneumonia, and
medical malpractice - an overdose of morphine administered to help ease the pain and
discomfort he experienced from his drinking during a speaking tour of America. The tour saw him using drugs, as well as alcohol, to increase his stamina and enhance his ability to perform his readings on stage, and certainly contributed to the complications, the coma, and the medical mistreatment that ended his life at 39. An old friend, Vernon Watkins, was asked by the London Times to write an obituary. “Innocence is always a paradox,” Watkins said, “and Dylan Thomas presents, in retrospect, the greatest paradox of our time.” (15) Watkins, a Christian, would never allow anyone to criticize Dylan, “insisting that he was a religious poet in the broad sense of the word, if not a religious man.” (16)

To his death, and since, the controversy continues to swirl about who and what Dylan Thomas was. Simply a rebel? Or a rebel, in Sinclair’s words, who “never escaped that first puritan training, that sense of sin, that holy infusion of childhood. He was more at home with Vaughan and Blake than with Marx and Proust.” (17) Glyn Jones, a friend and writer, described Dylan and his followers as “Bible-blest and chapel-haunted.” (18) His wife Caitlin argued that Dylan was not as free of his Welsh upbringing as he liked to think: “There was a very strong puritanical streak in him, that his friends never suspected; but of which I got the disapproving benefit.” (19) He tore the skin off his hands with his fingernails once, shouting, “To get at the bone, and then to get rid of that! What a wonderful thing!” (20) It was Dylan who asserted, as he did several times over his 39 years, that “the joy and function of poetry is, and was, the celebration of man, which is also the celebration of God.” (21) Six days before his death he told his American lover, Elizabeth Reitell, as he collapsed exhausted and weeping, that he wanted to die and “go to the garden of Eden.” (22) His favourite poem, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, was Milton’s On The Morning of Christ’s Nativity. Yet his American companion John Brinnin remained shocked at Dylan’s behaviour when he wrote his memoir, Dylan Thomas In America, that “the purest lyrical poet of the twentieth century” could live such a disjointed life,
being a disciplined and wonderful artist on the one hand and then seeking consolation, on the other, in “liquor, bar-room garrulity, encounters with strangers, and endless questing for meaningless experience.” (23)

Andrew Sinclair sums up this Dylan paradox:

These were the contradictions of the man who was the finest
lyric poet of his age. He had one foot in Eden, the other in
Babylon. He had one hand on the Bible, the other under the
bedclothes. His heavy head was lifted to the sky, his feet
were set on the bar-rail. A frail angel became gross, a self-
declared Lucifer took in his aged parents. The sensuous
prophet of the adolescent, the generous wastrel of middle
age, the fierce mourner of the dead . . . He was the bard of
the mysteries of heaven and hell . . . (24)

II. The Jesus Poems

It was in the big cities, like London and New York, that Dylan did his heaviest drinking and the least of his writing. It was in Wales, where he went to dry out and recollect himself, that the poems tumbled out of him, and God and Christ with them. Biographer Paul Ferris points out,

Like many writers he [Dylan] drew energy from a location . . .
West Wales, imprinted on him as a child, was the place that
consistently provoked him to write . . . It is a fact that nearly all
his poems were written there. The last period in which he wrote
intensively over a short period, faintly echoing the frenzy of his
adolescence, was the year from mid-1944 to mid-1945. He
was based in Wales all that time, with intermittent trips to
London. (25)

His wife Caitlin concurs, “Luckily to Dylan the tomb came late, and he solved the issue of integrity quite simply; whenever in town, and confronted by the easier joys of telling endless stories to buddies in pubs from morning till night, by not working at all until he was back in the penitence of the country.” (26)

In was in Wales that Dylan wrote his poems of Jesus. “He laid aside,” writes Milton in the poem Dylan loved best, “and here with us to be, forsook the courts of everlasting day, and chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.” From the very beginning of his writing days, filling notebooks with poems in Swansea, Dylan wrote of Jesus and his sufferings. “His own poetry,” observes Ferris about Dylan’s early years, “. . . was likely to have Marx and Jesus in it; he was an agnostic somewhere on the fringes of belief who liked to argue about religion, far into the night.” (27)

Where, what’s my God among this crazy rattling
Of knives on forks, he cried, of nerve on nerve,
Man’s ribs on woman’s, straight line on a curve,
And hand to buttock, man to engine, battling,
Bruising, where’s God’s my Shepherd, God is love?
No loving shepherd in this upside life. (28)

Even in his poems about sex and lust he could not prevent images of a suffering Christ from creeping in:

The dancing women all lie down;
Their turning wheels are still as death;
No hope can make them glad,
Lifting their cheery bodies as before
In many shapes and signs,
A cross of legs
Poor Christ was never nailed upon (29)

Sinclair comments:

Veering between belief and despair, most of the later poems
of the Notebooks demonstrated Dylan’s early search for a
mystical fusion of the contradictions that were to torment him
all his life. He could not wholly reject the censorious society
that loved him, while longing fiercely for the appalling freedom
of the poet. He could not spurn God though he boasted in 1933
that God had been deposed years ago and the Devil reigned.
He could only try to resolve the conflicts between the outer
obvious world, which had to be lived in and enjoyed and endured,
and between his inner vision of some impossible unity in creation.
The knowledge of the artist was ‘of the actual world’s deplorable
sordidness and of the invisible world’s splendour.’ Even Dylan’s
own poems did not seem satisfactory to him because they dealt
too much with the necessary outer world. ‘Perhaps the greatest
works of art are those that reconcile, perfectly, inner and

For Dylan, as for William Blake and John Donne before him, the human body was
metaphysical as well as physical: “Man be my metaphor.” (31) And what was
essential to comprehending the mingling of the metaphysical and the physical in humanity was Christ.

Jesus Christ, indeed, became the key to this mystery of God in
man, even to the agnostic and doubting Thomas, whose poems
of the period were awash with the blood and the body and the
pain of the crucifixion. Yet, finally, Dylan was always the heretic,
the Gnostic, believing that part of the godhead was somehow
in every body, that each being was somehow his own suffering
Jesus. (32)

Swaying back and forth between belief and unbelief, or if not exactly unbelief, a tormented vision of the Christian faith Wales had given him, Dylan seemed to closely identify with Christ in his sufferings, not only when he wrote his poems away from urban tumult, but even in letters he wrote to friends, describing himself as lonely as Christ in a poor, dirty land. (33) When he was 19 he wrote a poem in his Notebooks that he called his “Jesus poem” (34) which was entitled Before I Knocked. The Christological metaphors and images of crucifixion and suffering are very strong:

As yet ungotten, I did suffer,
The rack of dreams my lily bones
Did twist into a living cipher,
And flesh was snipped to cross the lines
Of gallow crosses on the liver
And brambles in the wringing brains.

My throat knew thirst before the structure
Of skin and vein around the well
Where words and water make a mixture
Unfailing till the blood runs foul;
My heart knew love, my belly hunger;
I smelt the maggot in my stool.

. . . .

I, born of flesh and ghost, was neither
A ghost nor man, but mortal ghost.
And I was struck down by death’s feather.
I was mortal to the last
Long breath that carried to my father
The message of his dying christ
You who bow down at cross and altar,
Remember me and pity Him
Who took my flesh and bone for armour
And doublecrossed my mother’s womb.

Commenting on the “Jesus poem” Walford Davies points out that Dylan “often
fuses his own and everyman’s identity with Christ”. (35) And there is certainly
more than one Jesus Poem in Dylan’s canon. At the same time as Before I Knocked Dylan
wrote a poem called In The Beginning which is also full of Christological references: “In the beginning,” says Dylan, echoing Genesis and the Gospel of John, “was the pale signature, three-syllabled and starry as the smile; and after came the imprints on the water” - he speaks of Jesus stepping across the Sea of Galilee - “stamp of the minted face upon the moon; the blood that touched the crosstree and the grail touched the first cloud and left a sign” - he speaks of the first tree in Eden as well as the tree that was the Cross of Christ. Later in the poem, paralleling the Gospel of John exclusively, Dylan says, “In the beginning was the word, the word that from the solid bases of the light abstracted all the letters of the void.”

In this same period of time, 1933, we have a third Jesus Poem by Dylan that he
wrote on Christmas Eve, a poem that is worth quoting in its entirety. Originally entitled Breakfast Before Execution Dylan later renamed it This Bread I Break. Davies says of the poem:

Paradoxically, the life Christ gives in the eucharist involves the
death of nature . . . [the poem is] a version of ‘The Last Supper’ at
which Christ inaugurated the ritual. Ostensibly spoken by Christ,
the poem is both an expression of the central Christian tenet that
new life comes from suffering and breakage and an ironic resistance
to the urge to abstract significance from what is already a
significant, living world. (36)

This bread I break was once the oat,
This wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day or wind at night
Laid the crops low, broke the grape’s joy.

Once in this wine the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind;
Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.

This flesh you break, this blood you let
Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape
Born of the sensual root and sap;
My wine you drink, my bread you snap.

Possibly the most momentous of the Jesus Poems is the one entitled Altarwise by owl-light which Dylan wrote between Christmas 1934 and Christmas 1935. He went from

being 20 years old to 21. It consists of ten sonnets of which five are examined here. Christ speaks frequently throughout. The poem contrasts the integrity of the true Christ or “gentleman of wounds” with the Christ that is “the fake gentleman” who represents what Christianity has become - a corrupt version of what Jesus intended.

In Sonnet I, Davies comments, “Christ, crucified and castrated by some originating power, appears to either the newly born poet or to Christ’s own newly born self in Bethlehem, and declares both his immanence (his “bed”, cradle and grave, is as large as the tropical expanse of the world, of “Capricorn and Cancer”) and his partnership in the world’s sexuality (Capricorn, the goat) and its mortality (cancer).” (37)

Then, penny-eyed, that gentleman of wounds,
Old cock from nowheres and the heaven’s egg,
With bones unbuttoned to the halfway winds,
Hatched from the windy salvage on one leg,
Scraped at my cradle in a walking word
That night of time under the Christward shelter,
I am the long world’s gentleman, he said,
And share my bed with Capricorn and Cancer.

In Sonnet II, “the resurrected Jesus, speaker of the last two lines of the first sonnet, continues as the speaker of the whole of the second.” (38) This continues into Sonnet III where Jesus discusses his Incarnation: “When “three dead seasons” (spring, summer and autumn) on the ‘climbing grave’ of the year had brought the world to winter (the season of the Nativity), Christ dipped himself ‘in the descended bone’ of a human body come down to earth.” (39)

First there was the lamb on knocking knees
And three dead seasons on a climbing grave

. . . . .

Rip of the vaults, I took my marrow-ladle
Out of the wrinkled undertaker’s van,
And, Rip Van Winkle from a timeless cradle,
Dipped me breast-deep in the descended bone

In Sonnet IV “the speaker in the octave is now the growing boy, either the poet or the young Christ. Growing in intellectual curiosity, he asks those abstract questions that can have no meaningful answers in a solid world.” (40)

What is the metre of the dictionary?
The size of genesis? the short spark’s gender?
Shade without shape? the shape of Pharaoh’s echo?

“Thomas the young whippersnapper,” says Davies, “or Christ the young iconoclast are then answered in the sestet by the resurrected Christ’s calmer emphasis on Love.” (41) The fifth sonnet highlights the corrupt Christianity that now exists, juxtaposing an artificial Christ over against the authentic Christ of the first four sonnets.

And from the windy West came two-gunned Gabriel,
From Jesu’s sleeve trumped up the king of spots,
The sheath-decked jacks, queen with a shuffled heart;
Said the fake gentleman in suit of spades,
Black-tongued and tipsy from salvation’s bottle

Davies comments:

The first five lines are spoken by the poet as narrator,
describing a corrupted and hypocritical form of
Christianity, promoted by a card-sharping ‘Western’-
type Bible-thumping evangelist. He is a fake gentleman
as different from Christ, the gentleman of wounds of the
first sonnet, as general western Christianity is from Christ’s
original teaching. (42)

In 1940 Dylan wroteThere was a saviour, a poem that “dramatizes the radical
Blakean view of Christ as a person betrayed by the organized religion founded in His
name.” (43) In a letter to a friend Dylan said, “The churches are wrong because they
standardize our gods, because they label our morals, because they laud the death of a
vanished Christ, and fear the crying of the new Christ in the wilderness.” (44)

There was a saviour
Rarer than radium
Commoner than water, crueller than truth;
Children kept from the sun
Assembled at his tongue
To hear the golden note turn in a groove,
Prisoners of wishes locked their eyes
In the jails and studies of his keyless smiles.

The people who had hoped for more from Christianity, “prisoners of wishes”, are locked up in their minds and spirits by institutional Christianity, yet still seek the freedom available in Jesus who does not imprison or lock up with his “keyless smiles”, even though he has come not to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34), “a saviour . . . crueller than truth”. This poem makes it clear that in Dylan there was no rejection of Christ, no matter how often he asserted he didn’t believe in God, and that any dichotomy which existed in him was the same dichotomy he believed existed between the true Christ and what organized religion had made of Christ, especially in his native Wales. This affinity with Jesus remains evident in a poem written four years later, Ceremony After a Fire Raid, where Dylan sets out his lines and stanzas in the manner of a Christian litany and declares,

I know the legend
Of Adam and Eve is never for a second
Silent in my service
Over the dead infants
Over the one
Child who was priest and servants,
Word, singers, and tongue
In the cinder of the little skull,
Who was the serpent’s
Night fall and the fruit like a sun,
Man and woman undone,
Beginning crumbled back to darkness
Bare as the nurseries
Of the garden of wilderness.

Christ is the one Child, whom Dylan identifies with a child alive only a few hours before it was killed in a German air raid, “who was priest and servants, Word, singers, and tongue . . . who was the serpent’s night fall”, the undoing of Satan and the evil in the world, “and the fruit like a sun”, also the fruit of Satan’s work because Christ came in response to the wickedness Satan unleashed. Again, we see not only that fascination with Jesus but a certain proximity to orthodox beliefs about Christ’s Advent, his Incarnation, his death to defeat Satan on the Cross, and more than a proximity, sometimes almost an embrace, obvious in the other Jesus Poems as well.

Dylan biographer Paul Ferris argues that ”there are two views about Thomas and
religion. One that he was a ‘religious’ poet, and his life a movement towards God. The other (which seems to me the only feasible view) is that religion was a stage-prop of his poetry; he used its language and myths, which he learned in childhood, without ever absorbing or caring much about its central beliefs”. (45) Having looked at Dylan’s Jesus Poems with slightly more than a passing glance it is impossible to agree with Ferris. On the one hand, this is not a poet like Herbert or Donne or Blake or Hopkins or Eliot. On the other hand, Dylan’s wrestling with Christ and Christianity in his poems, his identification of Christ with the human race and human suffering, his sympathy for Jesus over against a corrupt institutional Christianity, his entanglement in Christ’s Incarnation and Atonement - all these speak of a passion for Jesus that goes far beyond using him as a stage prop or as poetic license. A man who is always reading and quoting Donne and Blake and even Hopkins and whose favourite poem is by Milton, and a poem about Christ at that, is not someone who is taking the mysteries of divinity and Christ lightly. There was a world he lived in the pubs and in the promiscuities and vulgarities of his skin, another world he lived within where he looked for what was truest and best, where he looked for a true God and a true Christ, and put his struggles with it all down on paper for the world he cared so much about to read. This is the third way of looking at Dylan, that he was a prodigal who believed in Christ but turned his back on Christianity and said he did not believe, only to limp home from his debaucheries and seek Christ again and again in his imagination and in the poems that spun the thinking and feeling out of his deepest darkest depths and brought them shining into the light of day. Two years before his death he competed Poem on his Birthday, where he wrote some of his most haunting verse, and proved that the prodigals’ journey to and from the divine “spinning place” had not ended but was still continuing, even though the unaware saw only his drinking and his sensuality and his unbelief.

And freely he goes
In the unknown, famous light of great
And fabulous, dear God.
Dark is a way and light is a place,
Heaven that never was
Nor will be ever is always true,
And, in that brambled void,
Plenty as blackberries in the woods
The dead grow for His joy.

. . . .

That the closer I move
To death, one man through his sundered hulks,
The louder the sun blooms
And the tusked, ramshackling sea exults;
And every wave of the way
And gale I tackle, the whole world then
With more triumphant faith
Than ever was since the world was said
Spins its morning of praise,

I hear the bouncing hills
Grow larked and greener at berry brown
Fall and the dew larks sing
Taller this thunderclap spring, and how
More spanned with angels ride
The mansouled fiery islands! Oh,
Holier then their eyes,
And my shining men no more alone
As I sail out to die.


1. Dylan Thomas, in a letter to John Malcolm Brinnin, quoted in Walford Davies, ed., Dylan Thomas, Selected Poems (London: Penguin Books Ltd., 2000), p. x.

2. Dylan Thomas, Collected Poems (London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1952), preface.

3. Andrew Sinclair, Dylan The Bard (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2000), p. 171.

4. Ibid., p.172.

5. Ibid., p. 196.

6. Ibid., p. 197.

7. Dylan Thomas quoted in Paul Ferris, Dylan Thomas, The Biography (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1977; rev. ed., 1999), p. 76.

8. Thomas quoted in ibid., p.14.

9. Sinclair, p. 53.

10. Jimmy Carter quoted in Sinclair, p. 216.

11. Thomas quoted in ibid., p. 79.

12. Sinclair, p. 90.

13. Charlie Chaplin, quoted in Ferris, p. 284.

14. Caitlin Thomas quoted in Sinclair, pp. 211-212.

15. Vernon Watkins quoted in Ferris, p. 362.

16. Watkins quoted in ibid., p. 128.

17. Sinclair, p. 222.

18. Glyn Jones quoted in ibid.

19. Caitlin Thomas quoted in ibid., p. 224.

20. Dylan Thomas quoted in ibid.

21. Dylan Thomas quoted in ibid., p. 200.

22. Dylan Thomas quoted in Ferris, p. 356.

23. John Malcolm Brinnin, quoted in Sinclair, p. 177.

24. Sinclair, p. 226.

25. Ferris, p. 3.
26. Caitlin Thomas quoted in Sinclair, p. 91.

27. Ferris, p. 82.

28. Notebook poem quoted in Sinclair, p. 54.

29. Notebook poem quoted in ibid., p. 52.

30. Sinclair, p. 54.

31. Last line of If I were tickled by the rub of love

32. Sinclair, p. 55.

33. Dylan Thomas quoted in Sinclair, p. 82.

34. Dylan Thomas quoted in Davies, p. 116.

35. Davies, p. 116.

36. Ibid., p. 119.

37. Ibid., p. 127.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid.

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid., p. 128.

42. Ibid.

43. Ibid., p. 139.

44. Ibid.

45. Ferris, pp. 28-29.


EMP said...

This is the first time a poetry article has been dedicated to me (although EB did name his blog, Unexpected Rainbows, after a line in The Hippo and the Unicorn). I am honoured. And what a beautiful way Thomas has with words! I shall certainly seek out more of his treasures. You are, quite simply, wildly inspirational. I have been writing (and editing old writings) all week, ever since I (re)stumbled upon your wonder-full-marvel-lous blog.

murray said...

well, the past 24 hours have been blessing and honour to me also - how good to hear you are getting back into your words and words and words - I'll be visiting your own blogs again & leaving a more marked footprint - here's to an Incarnation Christmas Fest with CC!