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Dicke, Robert J. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume XLIV (1955)

Wilde, Martha Haller
Dylan Thomas: the elemental poet,   pp. 57-64 PDF (2.7 MB)


Page 59

1955] Wilcie—Dylan Thomas 59 
forces of nature are applied to the physical changes in the development of
the individual. Life is "the Eastern weather" in "Before I
Knocked" and the
archetypal pattern of spring weather is utilized in "Hold Hard, These
Ancient
Minutes in the Cuckoo's Month." The poet continues to use this comparison.
The "golden weather" of "We Lying By Seasand" can only
be disturbed by the
"rock arrival" of barrenness and death. "Storm snow, and fountain
in the
weather of fireworks" tells us something of the violence of the sinner
of
old time revival religion in "It Is the Sinner's Dust-tongued Bell."
The
"outside weathers" quarrel with the internal temperament of the
animal inside
of "How Shall my Animal." Thomas sees "the boys of summer
in their ruin,"
knows "the message of the winter," feels the "October wind"
punishing his
hair, that "Beginning with doom in the bulk, the spring unravels,"
that "Here
In This Spring" the world wears away, that "love in the frost is
pared and
wintered by," that there is "dark-skinned summer," "A
Winter's Tale," and
"Holy Spring." In all of these poems from the earliest to the latest
there
is the simple correlation of the seasons of the year with the seasons of
man's life and the recognition of what Jeremy Taylor designated in his conduct
book, Holy Dying— mutability of life where seeds of winter are
present
even in our spring fever. 
 Like the seventeenth century divines, Hamlet, and non-conformist preachers,
Thomas is early preoccupied with cadavers, worms, and the grave. At first
the poet is "dumb to tell the lover's tomb/ How at my sheet goes the
same
crooked worm." He writes, "I sit and watch the worm beneath my
nail/ Wearing
the quick away" and, Hamlet-like, there's the "rub"; "The
shades of girls,
all flavoured from their shrouds,/ ~When sunlight goes are sundered from
the worm." In ' October he is conscious of the "wormy" winter";
in dreaming
his "genesis" he knows that limbs "had the measure of the
worm"; the "worm
in the scalp" haunts "All All and All the Dry Worlds Lever,"
and finally
the "Worms/ Tell, if at all the winter's storms! Or the funeral of the
sun"
in "Here in This Spring." After the early poems the worms disappear
from
the limelight. 
 But death is ever present. Time and the transciency of things are the poet's
foes. "When like a running grave, time tracks you down," as you
grow older,
you try to catch the physical sensations life has to offer before "time/
on track/ Shapes in a cinder death." "Who kills my history?/ Time
kills me."
"Time let me play and be"; "Time held me green and dying."
Time smirks because
the poet knows that birth is only the beginning of dying: 


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