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Rhyme & Reason


Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas 1914-1953

DYLAN Thomas is 60 years dead this month. The Taffies don't seem to be making much of a fuss. They should. Thomas is their greatest claim to fame in the writer area in the 20th century.

But I suppose, like ourselves, as Celts they are reluctant to praise their own. It was Goethe, the German genius, who said of us when he saw the Irish troops swaggering through the city of Weimar, "the Irish will always pull down a noble stag".

Dylan Thomas must be among the great poets of the last century. He had a stunning speaking voice for verse that sent the words careering over the heads of the audiences like clouds in a rush for dawn.

No poet ever had such a success before in the United States. But adulation and alcohol killed him. Play his poetry recitals on disc and you will hear something unique in the cultural history of the 20th century.

Dylan's father, an agnostic school teacher, paved the path for his son's success as a poet by bringing him up to love the verbal music of the Welsh tongue.

Despite ferocious fighting with each other, Dylan adored his dad. When the old man lay dying, but didn't know it, Dylan commented: "He is the only person I can't show this fecking poem to – he doesn't know he's dying."

His father's death would be the subject of Dylan's most famous poem Do Not Go Gentle.

PS. Dylan is not related to Bob Dylan by the way. The singer adopted the name in honour of the poet.